Over the last month several of our agencies have successfully demonstrated that fighting illicit trade requires collaboration to be most effective. Through traditional media and several social media outlets, the public has been provided with details of some of the successes being achieved as agencies carry out successful enforcement action in illicit trade.

In September 2021 alone, we note that such raids have been carried out in San Fernando, Marabella, Penal, St James, Tunapuna and along Tragarete Road. The items seized for the suspicion of being illicitly traded are even broader than the areas from where these items have been seized.

Items reported to be seized range from electric fans, hair dryers, pharmaceuticals, cigarettes and other tobacco related products, alcohol, varied food items and illegal gambling equipment among others. In several of these cases the efforts represented collaborations between different state and enforcement agencies. On September 1 for example, while the exercise was led by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) it included officers of the Customs and Excise Division, the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards, and the Ministry of Health’s Chemistry, Food and Drugs Division. With such partnerships, the agencies are cooperatively demonstrating that the authorities are serious about reducing the incidences of illicit trade. The message to businesses involved in or those considering entering “the business of illicit trade” is

“Beware, the authorities are watching and the authorities are acting together to reduce your activities”.

The trade in illegal goods and illicit products is extremely dangerous and the crime has many deep fangs. In numerous cases the public’s health is compromised by products manufactured under unhealthy and questionable conditions. Items such as substandard electrical products endanger life and are frequently associated with destruction of property by fire. Goods illegally entering our jurisdiction also deny the government significant revenue when the payment of duties is avoided.

The work of the recently formed National Anti-Illicit Trade Task Force established by the Ministry of Trade and Industry under the stewardship of the Honourable Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, now allows for even closer collaboration of several state and private sector agencies. This work will continue to be crucial as the country continues its efforts at fighting the serious scourge of illicit trade.

It should be noted that the recent raids highlighted would not have been possible if someone did not act on a suspicion and make a report to the authorities. Such persons should be highly commended.

If you suspect items are being illicitly traded, then report these suspicions anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 800-TIPS or sending a tip online at www.crimestopperstt.com. You always remain anonymous.