Venezuelans trading guns, ammo for food

Thursday, September 15, 2016 - 05:30

Venezuelans and locals are bartering on the high seas where arms and ammunition are sold or exchanged for food and basis commodities. 

These trades also take place at some of T&T’s remote coastal ports, according to ASP Vernly Gift of the Organised Crime, Narcotics and Firearms Bureau (OCNFB). He was speaking at the weekly press briefing at Police Administration Building, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. He said officers operated mainly on intelligence gathering which resulted in seizures but what was needed was greater monitoring of the numerous ports of entry scattered along the coastline.

Information, he said, was that most guns and ammunition entering the country originated from the South American mainland and North America. With regards to guns and ammunition originating from North America, he said, the illegal weapons were usually concealed in shipping barrels, shipping containers, household appliances, such as washing machines, stoves, refrigerators and water heaters.

“These items are cleared and received by the consignees at the legitimate ports of entry,” Gift said, adding that with the use of technology and greater co-operation from members of the public there has been and increase in the seizure of illegal guns.

Guns seizure stats
Regarding seizures, he said the Police Service had a 32 per cent increase with respect to the seizure of illegal guns and 153.6 per cent increase regarding the recovery of illegal ammunition.

From January 1 to September this year, 545 illegal guns and 16,671 illegal ammunition were seized compared to 450 illegal guns and 6,575 illegal ammunition for the same period last year.

Among the guns seized for this year were 128 revolvers, 263 pistols, 64 shotguns, eight sub-machine guns and 40 home-made shotguns. Gift said the police commissioner had stipulated that officers recover at least 690 guns for 2016, adding that the Police Service was just short of that.

But while he commended the hard work of officers, Gift said the Police Service was worried about the number of guns entering the country. He also pleaded with members of the public to continue to give information to assist in the recovery of illegal guns.

He praised officers of the South Western Division who, on September 10, recovered six assault rifles, two 12-gauge shotguns, one Baretta 9mm pistol, 17 assorted magazine and close to 1,300 assorted ammunition in Claxton Bay.

On whether the expiration of the Anti-Gang Act and the Bail Act was affecting the intelligence gathering capabilities of the Police Service, Gift said that was not the case as the Criminal Gang and Intelligence Unit (CGIU) was fully functional as there were other pieces of legislation which were helpful.

“Clearly it would have created some sort of discomfort but it does not mean to say that the department itself cannot operate the way it used to,” he added.

SOURCE: (Geisha Kowlessar)