The number of guns seized by the coast guard is “extremely low,” chief of defence staff Hayden Pritchard has said. “Out of the thousands of vessels that enter TT, finding one or two with guns is like looking for a needle in a haystack. We have been responding. It has been difficult.
We have had more success with drugs than guns,” Pritchard told reporters at a National Security press briefing yesterday at the Ministry’s headquarters in Port of Spain. One of the problems, he said is that guns sink, while drugs float, so if a vessel is intercepted and dumps its cargo, the drugs are more likely to be found than guns.
“Normally guns accompany drugs. We have had quite a bit of success with drugs and surprisingly, we have not seen guns on vessels with drugs. What we have surmised and could be wrong, is guns are dumped. Drugs are harder to dump because they float. The Coast Guard has intercepted a lot of drugs. It has not intercepted a number of guns,” Pritchard said. The Coast Guard has ramped up its patrols along the east coast and the Gulf of Paria, he added. National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said that he has been in contact with his Venezuelan counterpart to facilitate joint patrols and information sharing along the TT-Venezuela maritime border to monitor the movement of vessels between the two countries, and intercept when necessary.
Most gun seizures, though, happen on land. Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams said that for the year so far, 552 firearms have been seized by the police, many of them in villages along the south coast like Cedros, Icacos and Erin.
“Clearly there is a linkage between the movement of firearms into the country from the sea, so we do know there is the traffic in firearms from the maritime space.”