Saturday, January 26, 2008

GANGING UP

340 per cent increase: 1,700 members in 86 gangs in T&T
Ria Taitt Political Editor
Source: Trinidad Express
Saturday, January 26th 2008


Criminal gangs in Trinidad and Tobago are multiplying and fast, both in terms of the numbers of gangs and the numbers of persons joining gangs. The activity is leaving one with inescapable conclusion that the society is now under greater threat.

Speaking in the House of Representatives yesterday, National Security Minister Martin Joseph stated that there were now 86 gangs, comprising up to 1,720 members across the country.

He said the average size of each gang varied between 15 to 20 members, which meant that the total membership was between 1,300 to 1,720 persons.

The situation has deteriorated considerably over the past 18 months. The last time Joseph gave a head count, he told the House of Representatives on June 6, 2005, that there were some "500 hardcore members" in the "66 known gangs".

Yesterday's figures therefore represent an over 340 per cent increase in the membership of gangs and a 30 per cent increase in the numbers of gangs.

Joseph said the reason for the proliferation was because "splinter groups were being formed within gangs as a result of some displacement activity".

Asked by Tabaquite MP Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj whether any of these criminal gangs were brought to justice in the courts, Joseph said his understanding was that a number of them were, but he did not have the specific information.

The minister has repeatedly stated that the record murder toll for last year was the result of gang-related activity, since most of the homicides in Trinidad and Tobago are gang-linked. He also stated that most of the gang-related activity is directly linked to the problem of the illegal drug trade and the prevalence of firearms. (Maybe if the multi-million dollar radar, that the PNM bought with tax payer's money was working, we wouldn't have this problem.)

Yesterday, Joseph said among the initiatives taken since 2006 to arrest gang members were the establishment of the Homicide Prevention Working Group and the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF), which created a presence in Carenage, Diego Martin, Beetham Gardens and Cocorite. This was in addition to the established centres of operation in Quarry Street, Charford Court, Harpe Place and Beverly Hills, he said. (See Page 6) (We need a police presence in the areas of the country where crime against the hard working citizens is prevalent, not where criminals are shooting criminals, who gives a f**k!)

He said because efforts to disrupt the activities of gangs also had to include initiatives to disrupt the drug trade, Government had also restructured the Homicide Bureau of Investigation, established the Repeat Offenders Programme, purchased vehicles, established police posts in the Morvant/Laventille area to deal with rising gang activity; the establishment of the Crime and Problem Analysis Branch; E-999 patrols, roadblocks and other police and joint army and police patrols.

In response to another question, Joseph revealed that the Firearms Interdiction Unit had seized a total of 111 firearms and 2,813 rounds of ammunition between 2003 and 2005, when it was disbanded. The areas from which the arms and ammunition were retrieved included Chatham, Port of Spain, Arima, Tableland, Claxton Bay, San Fernando, Chaguanas, Princes Town, Laventille, Cunupia, Longdenville, Cedros, Sea Lots, Valencia, Morvant, Curepe, Valsayn North, Trincity, Rousillac, Toco, Maracas Bay and Tobago.

He said the FIU was disbanded in July 2005, and since then the Police Service has seized 110 firearms in the last six months of 2005, 266 in 2006 and 220 in 2007.

Fartin Joseph has all this information and yet he can't make any progress in the fight against gang violence. That just goes to show you how completely inept the PNM is. Now as you all may kn0w, I don't have a problem with gang violence. So what if gang members kill one another, it's not like they were productive members of society anyway. In fact these gang member who are still alive are destructive members of society in my book. I say cordon off the area and let them kill one another.

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