Jack vs drug importers
GEORGE ALLEYNE Wednesday, July 4 2012
Until we are prepared to effectively hobble the drug importers, who annually bring in billions of dollars worth of cocaine, heroin and marijuana from Colombia and Venezuela, mainly for trans-shipment to consumer markets in North America, the United Kingdom and Western Europe, we will be saddled with rising horrific crimes.
The irony of it all is that in Trinidad and Tobago we have one of the most up to date systems for tracking drug laden vessels on their way to making stop over calls at unauthorised ports of entry along our otherwise largely unsecured southern coastline. What the country is lacking is the effective follow through action which would have been provided through the acquisition of fast offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) with tremendous firepower.
The cancelling of the contract for the supply of three such offshore patrol vessels by the People’s Partnership Government, which had been entered into by the previous People’s National Movement Administration is history. Nonetheless, the presence of the tracking system located at the Twin Towers in Port-of-Spain, if effectively employed, not only could deter the transshipment of illegal drugs through the country’s waters, but because vessels can be tracked for hundreds of miles by the system, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency and agencies set up by the British and French could be alerted.
While all of the nation’s Ministers of National Security and earlier Home Affairs battled with varying degrees of success against crime, whether serious crime or otherwise, the appointment of Jack Warner as National Security Minister in the recent Cabinet reshuffle should see a reinvigorated approach to the tackling of the issue of the transshipment of cocaine, heroin and marijuana.
Trinidad and Tobago needs to take the fight to the drug importers themselves, men who have earned billions of dollars from the illegal narcotics trade. And while I do not dismiss the strategies and the efforts of any of his predecessors, new Minister of National Security Jack Warner’s repeatedly making it clear that he would battle the criminal elements provides a needed hope to our troubled twin-island home. A hope that Trinidad and Tobago would return to what it once was before the growing use of illegal drugs warped and sullied young minds.
Although I, as so many others, may have reservations about Warner’s plans to reintroduce the once dreaded Flying Squad, albeit in a somewhat changed format, today’s grim situation demands that something drastic be done. Strategies must be put in place to effect compliance with the law. Anti-social behaviour, to put it mildly, has for too long been accepted as the norm in all too many areas in Trinidad and Tobago, and I do not mean geographical areas.
Already Warner has demonstrated that he will not be bound by the Westminster tradition that the duties of the Minister of National Security or the British equivalent, the Home Secretary, should be wholly administrative.
Warner, has signalled he is prepared to go out in the field, indeed “to lead the troops”. What I see as being inferred by this is that Warner will take the battle directly to the importers of illegal drugs.
Allow me to digress. There are three powers of government which are guarded jealously under the Westminster system — the Legislative, the Executive and the Judicial. I note these powers for the record as recently there has been some degree of comment relative to the Separation of Powers.
Nevertheless, the law has to be enforced for the protection of the wider society against those who callously and cynically would undermine it in a bid to achieve the greatest possible financial gain at the expense of a nation’s future and people’s lives.