INVESTIGATIONS are ongoing into the discovery of 27 illegal Venezuelan nationals by police during an anti-crime exercise in Barrackpore on the weekend.
Their arrests came after revelations were made before a joint select committee of Parliament that between 150 to 200 Venezuelans are arriving in Trinidad weekly via pirogue.
The exercise, according to a release yesterday, was conducted by Southern Division police including the Divisional Task Force and San Fernando Criminal Investigation Department. It was supervised by Acting ASP Peter Ramdeen and Acting Insp Don Gajadhar, between 3 am and 11 am, on Saturday.
During the exercise, police went to a house at Floyd Trace, Cumuto Road in Barrackpore, where they found 25 Venezuelan men and two Venezuelan women, all suspected of being in the country illegally. The immigrants were subsequently detained and handed over to officers of the Immigration Division.
For months, Venezuelans have been flocking to Trinidad, many illegally, to purchase food items and basic toiletries to send to loved ones back home as that country remains in the tight grip of grinding poverty, mounting social and political unrest and massive job losses and food shortages. The JSC heard that Venezuelans constitute the major group detained at the Immigration Detention Centre in Aripo, East Trinidad.
Up to press time, the 27 Venezuelans remained at the centre while Immigration officials continue their investigations into how they arrived.