Corrupt Trinidad cops and Venezuelan girls, the new industry

Director of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) David West says corrupt police officers are involved in “gangs, money laundering and human trafficking—with young Venezuelan girls fast becoming the preferred targets”.

He said yesterday: “This has become the ‘new industry’ for corrupt police officers to earn a hefty supplemental income albeit by illicit means.

“I am sure you would all agree with me that perhaps a decade or so ago the term ‘human trafficking’ was not part of the law enforcement vernacular in this country. However, it is now part of the crime fighting conversation and is very much an issue of growing concern.”

He was speaking at Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute’s 2019 anti-corruption conference at the Hilton Trinidad on the topic “Path to an Accountable and Corruption-free Police Service”.

“I am fortified in that view having considered the data compiled by the Financial Intelligence Unit and featured in their 2018 Annual Report. Reported therein are 11 suspected cases of human trafficking—the monetary value of the same being TT$2,072,382.

“Likewise, in their 2017 Annual Report, the FIU reported 11 suspected cases of human trafficking. Therefore, the severity of the problem, at least as far as the statistics show, remains the same.

“However, upon a comparative analysis of the figure for the 2014 FIU Annual Report, the number of suspected human trafficking cases pales in comparison.

“During that period, there were five suspected cases of human trafficking—this is less than half of the suspected cases reported for 2017 and 2018.

“So in no uncertain terms, human trafficking is a variety of corruption that has established what appears to be a permanent presence on our shores.

“Without going into the confidential details of complaints under investigation at the PCA, as director I can attest to the fact that the PCA has received complaints of police officers’ alleged heavy involvement in human trafficking,” he said.

He said police corruption in T&T, takes four forms—low level/petty corruption such as receiving bribes, abuse of administrative procedures and process such as failure to investigate, corruption borne out of liaisons with criminal groups and high level corruption such as disclosure of police information or evidence to benefit political groups for which the officer is affiliated.