Cops probing Venezue­lan links with Trinidad gangs—Dillon

Minister of Housing and Urban Development Edmond Dillon responds to a question on behalf of the Minister of National Security during yesterday’s sitting of Parliament.

(Trinidad Guardian) Sur­veil­lance on Venezue­lans le­gal, il­le­gal and crim­i­nal.

The TT Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) is mon­i­tor­ing the con­nec­tions be­tween Venezue­lan crim­i­nals who have been iden­ti­fied in T&T and the lo­cal gangs. And TTPS and oth­er se­cu­ri­ty agen­cies are al­so mon­i­tor­ing the move­ments of Venezue­lans en­ter­ing Trinidad & Tobago legal­ly as well as il­le­gal­ly.

Act­ing Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Ed­mund Dil­lon con­firmed this in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day when he was grilled by Op­po­si­tion MPs Rod­ney Charles, Roodal Mooni­lal and Vidia Guyadeen-Gopeesingh on re­ports about il­le­gal Venezue­lans in Trinidad & Tobago and crim­i­nal links with lo­cal gangs.

“A num­ber of mon­i­tor­ing and in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing ex­er­cis­es are tak­ing place right now from the TTPS,” Dil­lon said, de­tail­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

Dil­lon, act­ing for an ab­sent Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young, was grilled about the sit­u­a­tion fol­low­ing re­ports that 25 Venezue­lan na­tion­als were held for il­le­gal­ly en­ter­ing T&T and claims that lo­cal gangs are be­ing in­fil­trat­ed by cer­tain no­to­ri­ous Venezue­lan drug car­tels.

He said Im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties were cur­rent­ly in­ter­view­ing those who were held for en­ter­ing Trinidad & Tobago il­le­gal­ly at var­i­ous po­lice sta­tions across T&T.

“At the end of those in­ter­views, once it’s con­firmed they en­tered il­le­gal­ly, they’d then be charged and placed be­fore the court. Pend­ing that, what hap­pens in the court will de­ter­mine de­por­ta­tion,” Dil­lon said.

Asked if any of the 25 were linked to a no­to­ri­ous gang al­leged to have in­fil­trat­ed T&T bor­ders, Dil­lon said, “The peo­ple ap­pre­hend­ed are be­ing in­ter­viewed by Im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties. Un­til such time as the in­for­ma­tion comes from those in­ter­views, I”ll not be able to an­swer that.”

On what the TTPS is do­ing to ad­dress the in­fil­tra­tion of lo­cal gangs by Venezue­lans, Dil­lon added, “The ques­tion seems to have arisen from an ar­ti­cle by Mark Bas­sant which in fact was based on a Mas­ter’s the­sis done by an in­di­vid­ual in 2015. Even so, that in­for­ma­tion is sort of dat­ed.

“Notwith­stand­ing that, the TTPS has put a num­ber of mea­sures in place to deal with il­le­gals en­ter­ing T&T from Venezuela and oth­er places. They’ve es­tab­lished/strength­ened the li­ai­son with In­ter­pol to deal with/iden­ti­fy crim­i­nals who are on In­ter­pol’s data­base, en­ter­ing Trinidad & Tobago.

“They’ve strength­ened the li­ai­son be­tween lo­cal in­tel­li­gence units, the Strate­gic Ser­vices Agency (SSA), Or­gan­ised Crime and In­tel­li­gence unit and oth­er lo­cal in­tel agen­cies to mon­i­tor the move­ments of Venezue­lans, il­le­gal­ly and legal­ly, in­to T&T.”

Asked if Venezue­lans res­i­dent in T&T who are fa­cil­i­tat­ing the in­fil­tra­tion have been iden­ti­fied and if they’ll be de­port­ed, Dil­lon said, “In mat­ters such as these in­ves­ti­ga­tions are the or­der of the day, there­fore a num­ber of in­ves­ti­ga­tions are tak­ing place.

“Un­til such time as those in­ves­ti­ga­tions bear the kind of fruit that’s re­quired, then we move to a state of de­por­ta­tion. So a num­ber of in­ves­ti­ga­tions are tak­ing place re­gard­ing il­le­gal Venezue­lans in Trinidad & Tobago.”

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