NATIONAL Security Minister Stuart Young says robust efforts by police and the military have significantly reduced illegal maritime movement of people and contraband. Young anticipated these efforts will be bolstered by the police’s new, revamped marine branch.
Responding to questions from Opposition MPs in the House of Representatives, Young explained that while no country in the world can completely prevent illegal penetration of its borders, TT continues to do the best it can with the resources at its disposal.
He said the combined efforts of the security forces “have seen a reduction in illegal, cross border maritime traffic, particularly on the south coast.” Notwithstanding this, Young said robust security surveillance continues both in the Gulf of Paria and other areas along TT’s coastline “to cater for the shift in illegal maritime traffic.” He explained that “a virtual sea wall” established by the Coast Guard has significantly prevented the illegal entry of vessels into TT’s maritime waters. Young said any vessels which elude the Coast Guard at the maritime border, are intercepted by its assets in the beach and riverine areas of TT. He added the new police marine branch will greatly assist efforts to shutout illegal entry through rivers and swamps.
Young disclosed the police have “already procured two riverine vessels with an interceptor type vessel and pirogue, expected to be received in the next quarter.” With training for officers of the marine branch underway, Young said the police will soon be able to patrol swamps and rivers on Trinidad’s western and southern coasts and shoreline up to a distance of three kilometres.
Young criticised Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein for exaggerating the number of illegal arms and drugs which enter TT. Hosein was unhappy after Young reported a 31.7 per cent decrease in serious crimes including robberies, in his constituency.
Young outlined several measures taken to increase security in Barataria/San Juan, including increased police patrols, co-operation with the local business community and strategic strikes on criminal gangs operating in the area.
Hosein argued there were four robberies recently in San Juan and one resulted in a fatality. Speaker of the House of Representatives Bridgid Annisette-George overruled Hosein’s demand for Young to tell the House how many people were arrested and charged for crimes committed in his constituency.