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Trinidad steps up surveillance of criminals from Venezuela

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidad and Tobago law enforcement authorities have strengthened their relationship with the International Police (INTERPOL) in a bid to identify criminal gang members from Venezuela fleeing the South American country and entering the country either legally or otherwise.

Acting National Security Minister, retired Major General Edmund Dillon told Parliament Tuesday that the cooperation with INTERPOL is part of a coordinated effort to ensure that criminals and other undesirables do not enter Trinidad and Tobago while fleeing the economic and political situation in Venezuela.

“The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service has in fact put a number of measures in place to deal with the illegal entrance of Venezuelans and others coming into Trinidad and Tobago.

“We have strengthened liaison with INTERPOL to identify criminals who are on the INTERPOL database coming into Trinidad and Tobago. We have also strengthened the liaison the local intelligence units…to monitor the movement of Venezuelans illegally and legally into Trinidad and Tobago,” Dillon said as he responded to an opposition question seeking to determine what the law enforcement agencies were doing with regards to criminals, especially those from the Delta Amacuro region in Venezuela arriving here.

“We are also monitoring the connection between Venezuelan criminals who have been identified in Trinidad and Tobago and the local gangs. So a number of monitoring and intelligence gatherings taking place right now,” Dillon told legislators.

Dillon said that he was not in a position to disclose whether or not 25 Venezuelans, who entered the country illegally last weekend, had been deported, saying that the police were continuing their probe into that matter.

Earlier this month, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said that there were a number of Venezuelans being recruited by local gangs for involvement in criminal activities here.

“This is seriously going to hurt the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service in trying to maintain law and order and trying to deal with security in this country,” Griffith said, telling reporters “from what we have pinpointed through our intelligence, many of these individuals are entering here illegally, they do not know where they are going to work so they are being easily manipulated and lured by gang leaders to work for them”.

The government had earlier this month announced that it had agreed to open a two-week registration for Venezuelans to allow then an initial stay of six months in which they can also work in the twin island republic.

Venezuelans, who arrive here legally or illegally, will benefit from the process and National Security Minister Stuart Young said then that five registration centres will be set up with interpreters for the registration process.

He said the Venezuelans would undergo medical examinations and at the end of the six months, will have their situations evaluated before another six-month period becomes available to them.

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