National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds is boasting that the two recently acquired patrol vessels for the T&T Coast Guard are making trafficking into this country difficult.
The TTS Scarborough and the TTS Port of Spain arrived in this country from Australia on July 6 2021.
The two Cape-Class Coast Guard vessels cost US$38.6 million each.
Hinds said the impact of the vessels on the work against drugs, weapons and human trafficking has been very positive.
In fact, the minister pointed to a recent statement of a victim of human trafficking who said that the mere presence of the new vessels in the waters created challenges for criminals.
«They were planning to come into Trinidad one particular evening and having learnt that the Coast Guard had acquired these vessels and in fact had been present in the zone on that occasion they backed off.»
Hinds described the vessels as paying off «handsomely».
He said intelligence operators are gathering that the traffickers, «haven’t stopped their operations but they have begun to move as we move.»
The minister was speaking at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between this country and the European Union (EU) for an initiative called SEACOP V.
The aim of the project is to address challenges presented by organised crime trafficking, particularly cocaine.
SEACOP V is one of seven projects under the EU Commission-funded cocaine route programme.
It is meant to enhance international cooperation in tackling trafficking in the transatlantic cocaine route, which is between West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
SEACOP activities include the creation of inter-agency units at key ports, the establishment of maritime information systems to promote information sharing between countries and the establishment of joint marine control units and maritime units.
With improved information systems, Hinds said there will be regular monitoring of vessels, including fishing vessels and pleasure crafts.
He revealed that the programmes prior to this one have yielded success with several cocaine seizures being made.
The minister also revealed that a similar programme called AIRCOP was recently approved by the Cabinet.
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LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian