Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 17th 2014 Contents Fishermen in Moruga har-
bour suspicions about the
coastal radar system which has
been set up across T&T to pro-
tect the country s borders from
infiltration by the drug cartels.
They told the Guardian Media
Limited s (GML) Enterprise Desk
that even though the functional
radars were rotating, they did not
believe they were picking up ves-
sels entering and exiting our ter-
The radars are supposed to be
able to detect vessels at a radius
of 60 kilometres at sea, GML
was told. In theory, that means
the Coast Guard should be able
to detect any vessel and, more
importantly, any suspicious activ-
ity within the area.
But vice president of the Grand
Chemin Fishing Association Kis-
han Sinanan says the experiences
of his members at sea suggest to
them that the radars are not
"To me it just spinning,
because we don t get any feed-
back," Sinanan said.
"If people break down at sea,
if we go to the station or whoso-
ever Coast Guard, they can t give
account of whosoever and what-
Another Moruga fisherman
said based on some of the activity
he had seen on the waters, the
radars were either not working
or drug running was being cov-
ered up or facilitated by the law
"I on the waters 24/7, that s
my job, I does do fishing. I on
the waters. I does see suspicious
vessels time and time again,
through night and through day
and yet still when I buy a papers
I not seeing no interception of
The fishermen said the
absence and predictability of
Coast Guard patrols gave them
little confidence while at sea.
"Normally, people know when
the Coast Guard go up or down.
They know how to do their run
night or day or whatsoever," one
"Things happens here, things
is happening on the south eastern
coast. I does be on the water at
night 24/7. I does see movements
of suspicious vessels all over the
place and I see no Coast Guard."
Minister of National Security
Gary Griffith agrees that there is
much more to be done, but says
it is a gradual process. He believes
the system gives the Coast Guard
the capability to respond to ves-
sels coming into T&T waters.
Head of International Relations
at the University of the West
Indies, Prof Andy Knight, says
just having the radars operational
may not be enough.
"Apart from the radar system
you need to have adequate ves-
sels to interdict traffickers who
are trying to get into the region
using small speedy boats an, in
some cases, homemade sub-
marines," he said.
Griffith pointed out, however,
that the Government had a
three-tiered approach to border
protection where vessels could
patrol and interdict from the
shoreline to deep waters.
But fishermen are concerned
that these new vessels may be
just as irregular as current
A game fisherman from Point
Galeota said, "Now and then you
see choppers pass by, but you
don t see no boat and thing."
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 talks to fishermen about the activity they have
seen on the high seas and a former drug mule who was
caught in part five of her six-part series on the trade titled
Cracks in Our Borders.
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, January 17, 2015
Drug trade researcher Darius Figueira says our
open and unmanned seas also open up another
lucrative trade to international cartels---the most
valuable of all---human trafficking.
"When you look at the amount of people being
smuggled through the Caribbean, that is the
biggest business in the Caribbean today ...
trafficking of humans, because there is more profit
in trafficking a human than to traffic a kilo (of
cocaine)," he said.
Human trafficking, Figueira explained, was not
just limited to prostitution rings, but included
people who wanted to migrate and could not
The US State Department gave T&T a tier two
rating in their 2012 Trafficking in Persons (TIP)
report. It pointed out that while efforts were being
made, the country did not fully comply with the
minimum standards for tackling human trafficking.
"You bring them in through the Caribbean, transit
them through Central America, you put them in
Mexico and move them to a border point, put them
in the hands of a coyote to carry them across,"
The 2014 TIP report published by the United
States Department of State says "law enforcement
and civil society reported that some police and
immigration officers facilitated human trafficking in
the country, with some government officials
directly exploiting victims."
A DRUG MULE'S ACCOUNT
Professor Andy Knight says poverty makes
citizens vulnerable as victims of the illegal drug
"There are a lot of people in these countries who
are poor and are looking for some extra income,
and it's easy to convince them to become the
mules for some cartel in South America or Latin
America," he said.
A 2005 survey of the women's prison showed
that drug-related offences accounted for 46.4 per
cent of the incarcerations. Of those women
imprisoned, trafficking accounted for 56 per cent of
the charges that landed them in jail.
Katryna Hamilton-Brown, a well-educated
woman, contributed to this statistic. She told GML
one bad decision in 2010 cost her over two years of
her life apart from her children and family.
"I attempted to traffic drugs to Jamaica but I
was subsequently held at the airport that very
morning," she said during an interview.
And all it took to lure her was 800 grammes of
cocaine, a desire to get away and a promise of
"I only met them once. They didn't give me too
much info. They said this is what's going to
happen, this is how it's going to go down and it's
going to happen tomorrow," Hamilton-Brown said,
adding that it was her first time.
She was dropped off at the Piarco International
Airport with the cocaine stitched into her clothing.
Hamilton-Brown recounted her
anxiety as she went through the
procedure to board the flight.
"I'm feeling people staring at me
for no apparent reason. Something
inside of me says, 'Katryna you don't
need to be here,' but who do I call,
what do I say?"
Initially, though, she successfully
cleared Customs and was only
waiting to get on to her flight.
"An officer came from nowhere
and she was like, 'I want to search
you.' I was like, 'okay, that's no
problem, you can go ahead and
search me.' She just kept patting me
down and said, 'I know you have
something on you, you know,'" she
She was then taken to a separate
room for a further search.
"When we arrived in that room I
took off the clothes and handed it to
her. I was like, 'here, this is what you
She said the officer seemed
resilient, giving her the impression
there was a tip-off and there was no
She eventually pleaded guilty to
drug trafficking and spent over two
years in prison.
Hamilton-Brown said people who
were approached to become drug
mules were lured by stories of
success, but the traffickers never
told them the other side of the story.
"They never tell you that part of it,
they never tell you about the girls
who went to other countries and
never made it back because they
were raped or killed or whatever," she
She gave birth to her daughter
behind bars and was able to spend
just one day with the infant.
Looking back, Hamilton-Brown said
she knew one thing for sure, she was
not the only mule dropped off at the
airport that day, but was just the one
to be caught.
USED AS DECOY
Piarco International Airport
Radars, Coast Guard can't stem drug tide
on seas a norm
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