This inlet is one of the beaches Venezuelans use to enter Los Iros nightly along the southern coast.

(Trinidad Guardian) A se­cret agri­cul­tur­al plot in Los Iros, where five Venezue­lan women are be­ing as sex slaves, has been un­cov­ered by vil­lagers who are now call­ing on law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties to in­ves­ti­gate. Vil­lagers say they have made sev­er­al re­ports to po­lice but the women still have not been res­cued.

Many res­i­dents in the area told Guardian Me­dia they be­lieve al­leged po­lice in­volve­ment in this well or­gan­ised hu­man traf­fick­ing has pre­vent­ed oth­er law en­force­ment of­fi­cers from act­ing. The women be­ing held hostage in the camps came to Trinidad and To­ba­go last week.

In this Los Iros case, a vil­lager who re­quest­ed anonymi­ty said the women are “be­ing pimped out for $400 and $500 an hour.” Two peo­ple who tipped off the Erin po­lice were se­vere­ly beat­en last week, the vil­lager said, rais­ing their fears that po­lice of­fi­cers were in­volved in the ring.

Tra­vers­ing through a thor­ough­fare of agri­cul­tur­al ac­cess roads, pri­vate roads and for­est tracks used fre­quent­ly by Venezue­lans, Guardian Me­dia was giv­en an ac­count of how the hu­man traf­fick­ing op­er­ates in this area.

“There are times when no­body can come down here be­cause of what is go­ing on. Be­fore they were bring­ing in guns and drugs but more so now they are bring­ing in Venezue­lan women,” the source said.

“They walk up this hill­side and hide in hous­es un­til they are picked up. Some of the res­i­dents from around here know ex­act­ly what is go­ing on. The po­lice know who they are. Every­one is in­volved in this op­er­a­tion so we have to be care­ful who we talk with.”

Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent of the South West­ern Di­vi­sion De­onar­ine Bas­deo, when con­tact­ed by Guardian Me­dia about the al­le­ga­tions of po­lice in­volve­ment, said, “This is the first time we are hear­ing of this. No­body has come to make any re­port but now that we have the in­for­ma­tion we will be in­ves­ti­gat­ing. I in­tend to send a task force to in­ves­ti­gate. Yes, there is a lot of agri­cul­tur­al camps there and we will check it.”

A three-month Sun­day Guardian in­ves­ti­ga­tion by GML jour­nal­ists Mark Bas­sant and Hema Ramkissoon has al­ready un­cov­ered an il­lic­it sex trade span­ning the coun­try, from the re­mote port of Ce­dros to high-ris­es in West­moor­ings, where sex slaves as young as 15 years-old are held against their will, locked in rooms and forced to have sex with men. Oth­er young women are lured to this coun­try on the premise of a job by hu­man traf­fick­ers and are lat­er forced in­to sex slav­ery un­til they work off the debt for their jour­ney.

A source who re­quest­ed anonymi­ty said since the Min­istry of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty im­posed a ban on the Venezue­lan fer­ries which trans­port Venezue­lans legal­ly to Trinidad, more peo­ple have been com­ing in il­le­gal­ly un­der the eyes of the law en­force­ment of­fi­cers in­volved in the il­lic­it ac­tiv­i­ty. Some of the ar­eas where they are en­ter­ing in­clude RE Road, Jef­fers Dri­ve, An­duez Road, Beach Camp Road, and Erin Beach. Fur­ther along the coasts, Venezue­lans are al­so com­ing in through Morne Di­a­blo and Moru­ga.

The women were picked up at a beach off An­duez Trace, Los Iros and kept in the camp.

How­ev­er, al­though the Trinidad and To­ba­go Coast Guard, Cus­toms and Ex­cise Di­vi­sion, Im­mi­gra­tion and po­lice have been do­ing pa­trols in many of these ar­eas, no search­es are be­ing done on the aban­doned hous­es and farm­ers’ camps which stand on the coasts, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Los Iros and Erin.

Guardian Me­dia vis­it­ed the area known as Co­cal man­groves in Los Iros yes­ter­day in an at­tempt to find the camp where the women were be­ing held.

“Men are go­ing to the camp and rap­ing the women. The last I heard was two women were still be­ing kept at the camp. This is a se­cret and many peo­ple do not want to talk about it. Some­one could end up dead if this is not han­dled care­ful­ly,” said the source.

An­oth­er res­i­dent who lives near the Los Iros Beach said on Sat­ur­day night four boats dropped off about three dozen Venezue­lans, most of them women. There was one child who ap­peared to be about eight years old.

A Venezue­lan source said some of the women who are brought in­to Trinidad for pros­ti­tu­tion are al­so kid­napped in their home­land.

“Things are so bad there that Trinida­di­an kid­nap­pers with links to crim­i­nal gangs are kid­nap­ping girls, some of whom are as young as 13 years. They are told that they are ow­ing $20,000 as a fee to get to Trinidad and they have to work to pay back their debts,” the source said.

Sev­er­al promi­nent sports bars and guest hous­es in South Trinidad are used to pros­ti­tute the women and the own­ers pock­et lu­cra­tive sums gar­nered from this pros­ti­tu­tion ring.

Since 2014, it is es­ti­mat­ed that over five mil­lion peo­ple have fled hor­rif­ic liv­ing con­di­tions in Venezuela. Food and med­i­c­i­nal short­ages have forced peo­ple to leave be­hind all their pos­ses­sions and flee to oth­er coun­tries in search of a bet­ter life. An es­ti­mat­ed 60,000 Venezue­lans have fled to Trinidad and To­ba­go and many are hop­ing to be of­fi­cial­ly reg­is­tered on May 31 in Gov­ern­ment’s amnesty pro­gramme so they can get a chance to work.

Re­cent in­ci­dents in­volv­ing Venezue­lan women:

Oc­to­ber 2018: A 19-year-old Venezue­lan woman is beat­en in a house in Debe and her beat­ing post­ed on so­cial me­dia by her al­leged per­pe­tra­tor. A Diego Mar­tin man was lat­er charged with kid­nap­ping and wound­ing with in­tent.

Feb­ru­ary 9, 2019: 19 Venezue­lan women res­cued from homes in West­moor­ings and Stir Fry restau­rant Wood­brook af­ter po­lice smash hu­man traf­fick­ing ring and lat­er ar­rest a Chi­nese man and Venezue­lan woman who were slapped with 43 sex charges.

Feb­ru­ary 12, 2019: Two men, in­clud­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer, are ar­rest­ed and charged with kid­nap­ping and as­sault­ing a 24-year-old Venezue­lan woman in Diego Mar­tin af­ter she had pre­vi­ous­ly es­caped from them.

April 12, 2019: Four Venezue­lan women were res­cued from a ‘fake po­lice’ sta­tion in Diego Mar­tin af­ter they had been ab­duct­ed by three men and lat­er raped. The men were lat­er charged with false im­pris­on­ment and hav­ing sex­u­al in­ter­course with two of the women.

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