Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 16th 2015 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, January 16, 2015
Head of International Relations
at the University of the West Indies
(UWI) Professor Andy Knight and
drug trade researcher Darius Figueira
both believe there is State involve-
ment in the international drug trade.
They argue that the only way nar-
cotics can be successfully moved in
and out of T&T as successfully as
it has been over the years, with little
or no detection, is with the coop-
eration of the State and its agencies.
"I can t say for sure which par-
liamentarians, government sources
are being corrupted by drug traf-
fickers, but I m sure this happens
and sometimes it captures the state,"
Knight told Guardian Media Limit-
ed s Enterprise Desk.
"I wouldn t be surprised if, for
example, some drug cartels are able
to get some politicians by simply
giving them cash necessary to fund
political campaigns to get him into
Such an investment by a drug car-
tel would reap dividends since pay-
back would be guaranteed.
"Once in power, the cartel would
one day demand something, whether
it s closing a blind eye or maybe
some money is used to corrupt the
police force or the military force."
Even the Jamaican Gleaner wrote
of this possibility in a February 2002
editorial, saying party financing from
the private sector has significantly
decreased over the years.
"The contamination of the elec-
toral process and party finance by
drug money has therefore become
a clear and present danger across
the Caribbean," the paper wrote.
In 1989, 50 police officers were
suspended and then commissioner
of police Randolph Burroughs
resigned after allegations of their
involvement in a drug cartel.
The International Security Sector
Advisory Team s current country
profile of T&T states, "In the early
2000s, the government faced accu-
sations that many high-level officials
...had ties to gang leaders."
Give to get back
Figueira said this allegation is
"That s the oldest tactic, starting
with Pablo Escobar, corrupting offi-
cials of the state. And how do you
corrupt them, by literally deluging
them with money."
He added, "Every dollar you spend
to corrupt the state, you are in fact
purchasing impunity. Governments
are willing to pick low lying fruit---
the easiest application to win the
Explaining this, he said the drug
of choice in Trinidad---marijuana---
may be targeted while the cocaine
is allowed to come into the coun-
try.Marijuana can be locally grown
and while there is a vast difference
in the profit margin between cocaine
and marijuana, the latter activity at
least has the advantage of allowing
the drug cartels to conduct it inland
in some of the dense forests avail-
The US Department of State s
2014 International Narcotics Control
Strategy Report on T&T also uncov-
ered a new trend where Jamaican
nationals in this country barter ship-
ments of marijuana for cocaine for
Drug cartels use oldest trick in book
State officials can be bought
Multi-media journalist Urvashi Tiwari-Roopnarine has been
investigating T&T's flourishing illegal drug trade for the past several
weeks. That journey has taken her to several parts of the country for
extensive interviews with several people involved in the trade,
people who have been researching it and members of the law
enforcement agencies and government charged with trying to
prevent the activity.
Today, she looks at the age-old theory that there may be state
involvement in the trade and the system set up to detect illegal drug
shipments in part four of her six-part series on the trade titled Cracks
in Our Borders.
Professor Andy Knight
GRIFFITH: BORDERS NOT POROUS
HOLES IN RADAR NET
Drug trade researcher
Darius Figueira gave an
insight into the trading of
• One kilo of cocaine costing
US$1,500, if successfully
trafficked to Europe,
wholesales for about
US$50,000. That's almost 33
times its cost and a profit of
over 300 per cent.
• Ten per cent of the profit
from drugs goes to traffickers.
I wouldn't be surprised if, for example, some drug cartels are
able to get some politicians by simply giving them cash
necessary to fund political campaigns to get him into power.
Professor Andy Knight, Head of International Relations, UWI
Minister of National Security
Gary Griffith says T&T borders
are comparatively safe.
"Many times people will
criticise us for this road march
we continue to hear about the
borders being porous, but in fact
in comparison to many other
islands and the size of T&T we
have done pretty well," he told
In 2006, the then government
invested in a $130 million Israeli
360 degree coastal radar
system. Ten radar sites across
the country were erected and
the data obtained was
supposed to be transmitted to
the national radar centre for
Years later, reports surfaced
that the radars were not
functional. In 2011 the system
was upgraded and repaired,
Griffith said, but it is now all
about how the intelligence
gained from the system is used.
"Now that we have locked
down the radar with that 360
degree what happens next? It's
all well and good people at the
radar centre can monitor
movements, but how do you
respond to it?"
The GML team visited eight of
the 10 sites across the country---
San Fernando Hill, Toco,
Manzanilla, Moruga, Cedros,
Point Galeota, Charlotteville and
Bacolet. The two others, we
were told, are located in Staubles
Bay and Chacachacare.
Two of the eight radar sites
were not functional. The radar at
Manzanilla was motionless and
residents said it had been that
way for the past 10 years. The
one at Point Galeota was
missing---the tower stood erect
but there was no radar at the
Griffith said the locations are
not hidden but are guarded.
"For obvious reasons you
would not want to pinpoint areas
where these things are. There
are concerns of sabotage," he
"The more people know, they
try to see who working there,
they can be---it's not top secret
but we do not expose to the
public, to let them know exactly
where the radar centres are."
Told that the two non-
functional radars were adjoining
each other and meant that
almost 50 miles of coastline
were unprotected, Griffith said,
"Obviously I will not make
mention of areas which there
may be blind spots, obviously for
national security reasons.
"However, if one aspect is
down there are others that
overlap. There are other radars
which would overlap into those
which you cited, so it's not to
give the impression that because
it's not spinning, it's
automatically seen that these
things are not working."
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