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Sunday, 28 February 2010

multi-million-dollar drug trafficking trade between drug smugglers on the north coast and the Coast Guard

Police are investigating an alleged multi-million-dollar drug trafficking trade between drug smugglers on the north coast and certain members of the T&T Coast Guard (TTCG). The alleged drug trade was unearthed a few months ago by police, who realised that there were no drug interdictions in the waters off Las Cuevas during the past two years. Las Cuevas has been identified as the country’s major drug-smuggling port. Drug dealers across the country have abandoned previous ports of entry and resorted to Las Cuevas, which has been described as the “safest route.” There are also allegations that official vehicles belonging to the TTCG are used to transport narcotics on land. “Everyone (drug dealers) heading to Las Cuevas nowadays to get their stuff,” said a police officer assigned to the North-Eastern Division.
The Sunday Guardian was reliably informed that certain coast guardsmen were being paid thousands of dollars as a bribe to allow drugs, guns and ammunition to enter the country illegally through Las Cuevas. Speaking with the Sunday Guardian, on condition on strict anonymity, a Las Cuevas villager confirmed that there was an influx of strange people visiting their community on a regular basis within the past year. The residents said there was no doubt that the strangers visited the area to “handle their scene.”
Pay per shipment
According to the resident: “The situation has been going on for quite some time. At night, there is a set of lights out in the sea, and what does that tell you?...A drug transaction is taking place. “But what amazes me the most is where no one is even being caught with the drugs, and is no small thing I talking bout...Is big crocus bags of high-grade weed and thing.” Another source said certain Coast Guard officers would tax every shipment of drugs coming into the country. “For every kilo (gram) of weed, you have to pay $100 and $1,000 on every kilo of cocaine,” the source said. According to the source, drug smugglers are informed by corrupt coast guardsmen on when they should and should not come in with drugs. Once the coast is clear, drug-runners are given the “go ahead” to come in with their goods, which are usually stored on an island off Las Cuevas.
Police: Our hands tied
Meanwhile, head of the North-Eastern Division, which is responsible for villages along the north coast, Sr Supt Theophilus Cummings, said the police hands were tied in relation to drug trafficking at sea. During a telephone interview on Friday, Cummings said his officers always kept the fight alive with drug-runners on land. Cummings, who is expected to retire from the Police Service late next month after 41 years of service, said he was not aware of the alleged illegal activities involving Coast Guard officers, but promised that the allegations would be investigated. “They (drug traffickers) cannot come around my people (police officers) with that at all. We always have them (traffickers) running on the ground, and we will continue to do just that. “With this information, providing it is true, we hope that when the Police Marine Branch is fully operational it would be able to put an end to this.”
He said the police realised that drug dealers had adopted new ways in storing their goods out in the forest, away from dwellings. “My task force officers under Sgt Roger Alexander journeyed into Las Cuevas forest, near the sea, and recovered hundreds of kilograms of compressed marijuana last year. “It’s a waste of time searching houses in Las Cuevas, because they don’t keep it there anymore. You are not even going to find a pellet for a gun at any house,” Cummings said. Attempts to contact public affairs officer at the T&T Coast Guard, Lt Kirk Jean-Baptiste, for a comment on the allegations, proved futile


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