Crime continues to be at the forefront of discussions around our country as it has been for quite some time. While the online videos that circulate reflect the brazenness with which some of these offences occur, these still reflect only a small part of what is actually happening.
In the recent past both the Prime Minister and the Commissioner of Police have indicated that illegal quarrying was among one of the factors fuelling the unsatisfactory level of criminal activity. We also note that just a few days ago Commissioner Jacob noting that “criminal activity does not occur in silos” commended his officers for the seizure of illicit goods, including tobacco products, illegal gambling machines and substandard electrical items.
For more than seven (7) years as Crime Stoppers International increased its focus on transnational crimes, Crime Stoppers Trinidad and Tobago (CSTT) has been highlighting the links between illicit goods and criminal activities. The creation of the Anti-Illicit Trade Task Force (AITTF) under the Ministry of Trade and Industry has therefore been an excellent intervention in the matrix of illicit trade.
When funds from illicit trade are allowed to circulate unchallenged in the hands of criminals both locally and abroad, there’s an automatic increase in money laundering activities, the funding of the importation of illegal firearms, human trafficking, gang violence and ultimately murders. The Commissioner is right … they are all connected.
To quarrying and the list of illicit goods identified in the recent police seizures, we can easily add alcohol, pharmaceuticals, cleaning agents and other counterfeit goods available both at roadside bargains and high end shopping malls. Strategies for dealing with some of these goods are being carefully considered by Working Groups of the AITTF.
Our Free Trade Zones are being seen as fertile ground for illicit trade to flourish. While these areas are carefully designed to encourage local and foreign investment for specific projects, counterfeit products, smuggling and money laundering may also be inadvertently facilitated in these areas. There is therefore the need for the agencies responsible to stringently monitor both the products and activities that take place in these areas.
Finally, wherever these illicit trade activities occur, there are persons who are aware of these happenings. CSTT again encourages persons who are aware of any kind of illicit activities to report these to the relevant authorities. We are quite sure that many citizens are aware of the presence of firearms in their communities, of the goods being smuggled in free zones and of persons who profit from a variety of illegal activities. If you are afraid of the reprisals that can result from reporting any criminal offence, then be assured that reporting through CSTT is safe. You can call 800-8477 (TIPS) or use our submit tip banner at www.crimestopperstt.com to make an anonymous report. Report what you know and let’s take back T&T one tip at a time.
Crime Stoppers Trinidad and Tobago
August 24, 2022