Close to 40 prominent businessmen—from south, central and east Trinidad—who are linked to major drug and human traffickers, gun runners, gang leaders and murderers fuelling the multi-million dollar criminal enterprise in this country, have been named in a police intelligence report.
These businessmen, who are being protected by some members of the T&T Police Service on their payroll, are among 100 people of interest identified in a confidential 2019 police intelligence report obtained by Guardian Media. This newspaper has withheld the names in the report due to the sensitivity of the matter.
The report is the culmination of months of probing and surveillance by specific intelligence-gathering units within the T&T Police Service and the exercise was undertaken to “identify persons of interest who were allegedly involved in criminal activity using the guise of legitimate businesses or have directors in these businesses that are inclined to criminal activity,” as the police service attempts to tighten its reign on the nefarious underworld activities which have been fuelling the spiralling crime levels in T&T.
These businessmen have formed symbiotic relationships with the underworld to rake in millions and are contributing to the rising homicides and increased lawlessness now pervading the country.
The eye-opening report identifies people who have registered businesses which they are using as fronts to run lucrative human trafficking and prostitution rings.
Guardian Media, in its special investigation on sex slavery done in May, had identified several complicit law enforcement officials who have aided and abetted these businessmen.
The businessmen pay hitmen to execute people who interfere with their business and illicit operations, hire gang leaders in particular areas to provide security on various projects, or move contraband and assist with other activities.
But now, these illicit activities and the specific businessmen behind them have been documented by the police and their names have been submitted to the police hierarchy for action.
The question, however, remains: Why hasn’t the police acted on some of these “big fish” if they were aware of their activities for some time?
A senior police source, speaking under the condition of anonymity, said “That is the problem. We have certain arms gathering the intelligence, but then decide to hand it to the operational arm of the division to execute. But these intelligence-gathering units also have the capacity to act and move on these persons once they believe the information is solid. There is no reason to wait on another unit to do it if you feel strongly enough.”
Who are the businessmen and what they do
• One man owns a multi-million dollar business empire made up of supermarkets and night clubs. The report stated he is the “leader of an elaborate prostitution and human smuggling ring and involved in money laundering.”
• A businessman who owns a supermarket and restaurant uses these businesses as a legitimate front to facilitate “human trafficking and prostitution of Asian nationals,” according to the report.
Sources who spoke to Guardian Media about this individual said after 19 South American girls had been rescued from homes in Westmoorings and Stir Fry Restaurant along Ariapita Avenue in February this year, that individual has featured prominently in their investigation. Police said he was one of the major players in the trafficking of Asian girls into this country.
• Another businessman who is the owner of a hotel and several bars has been described as a major player “in an elaborate prostitution and human smuggling ring in south Trinidad.” Sources told Guardian Media that he “is very connected and also has law enforcement personnel in his pockets.”
• Another man from south-west Trinidad, the report stated, has tight connections in the human trafficking and prostitution rings in the South.
• A man with the alias “Popo” has been described as a “kingpin involved in drugs, arms and people trafficking from Venezuela.” Investigators believe some of his illicit gains have been used to purchase several businesses. Senior sources familiar with the underworld figure said he was “well connected and resourceful and had police officers at his beck and call.”
• There is a strategic alliance between “Popo” and a businessman who owns a very popular restaurant. The report stated that the businessman is suspected “to be involved in a drug distribution network” with “Popo”.
• An east Trinidad businessman who owns a popular bar is reportedly “involved in prostitution and human smuggling.”
Sources told Guardian Media that these businessmen have commanded the human trafficking trade of South American women for several years.
The list also uncovered several underworld figures engaged in other types of illicit and violent activities who are masquerading as businessmen.
On July 25, Vaughan “Sandman” Mieres was shot dead at his Las Cuevas home along with his wife, Alika Dehere and two of his henchman—one identified as Nigel “Blood” Octim, while the other is yet to be identified.
Mieres, known for controlling a swathe of the North Coast for many years, was described as the “leader of the Maracas Bay gang that is involved in arms, the drug trade and several murders,” over the years.
The frightening reality of how organised the drug trade has become is revealed through the intelligence report, which links a businessman who owns a contracting company. The report gave detailed information about his drug-running operation aided and abetted by other major players. They said he runs an elaborate drug distribution ring known as “North-South runners.”
A major part of the operation “involves deep-water diving and underwater drug shipments referred to as ‘parasites’, where illicit drugs are secured to the underbelly of certain vessels coming into Trinidad waters,” the report stated. Several gang members and law enforcement officers are on his payroll.
The report also named ten reputed gang leaders, most of whom were already mentioned in the exclusive Special Branch report obtained by Guardian Media a few weeks ago. Most of these gang leaders were identified as the beneficiaries of close to six million dollars in State contracts through their companies, despite an assurance given by the Government to stamp out this practice.
The report stated that most of these gang leaders operate registered companies and are connected to either the Rasta City or Muslim gangs in the Port-of-Spain and Western areas.
Two reputed gang leaders with the initials CL and BW were named in the report.
The underworld figures and what they do
• A reputed gang leader from south Trinidad who also made the list is reportedly connected to the man who runs the “North-South runners.” The report stated, he is “an assassin linked to several prominent businessmen operating from south Trinidad.”
• Another gang leader, whom they said owns a car rental and grocery business and is the supplier of “arms and drugs to various organised crime groups in south Trinidad,” is also linked to the “North-South runners.”
• A businessman also on the watch list is believed to be involved in “extortion, racketeering in construction companies and uses gang members loyal to an incarcerated gang leader.”
• The report also laid bare the activities of another businessman who owns a car business and is believed to be “involved in the illegal narcotics and arms trade as well as larceny of vehicles and is the associate of a well-known Muslim gang member.”
• A businesswoman, whom law enforcement says is involved in organised crime and owns a real estate business and car business, was also named in the report.
• The report also named another well-known businessman who owns stores and hardware. They believe he is “involved in the illegal importation and harbouring of Guyanese nationals.”
• A businessman who owns a company was also identified in the report as being involved in “money laundering and illegal quarrying.”
• Three other businessmen have been identified in the report as being “involved in organised crime, trafficking of arms and ammunition and racketeering.” They are also suspected to be involved in the larceny of motor vehicles and car parts.
• The owner of a hardware who is also a gang leader is “involved in illegal trafficking of drugs and guns from St Vincent and Venezuela and has close ties with persons in the underworld in Tobago.”
• One gang leader who is connected to a prominent businessman and owns his own business is described as the leader of a faction of the Muslim gang and is currently in jail on murder charges. The report states that he facilitates the criminal activities of a businessman and receives contracts from three prominent companies identified in the report.
Contacted last week on this matter, a senior official said they could not make any comment on the report. Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith could not be reached for comment.http://guardian.co.tt/news/the-milliond ... 91029c791b