HomeNewsBriefTrinidad and Tobago Sees Worsening Security Situation
BRIEF

Trinidad and Tobago Sees Worsening Security Situation

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 6 JUN 2016 BY LUIS FERNANDO ALONSO EN

The security situation continues to erode in Trinidad and Tobago as the island nation struggles to combat organized crime fueled by the drug trade and deterioration in nearby Venezuela is feeding fears of an influx of firearms.

Following the killing of three police officers in separate incidents during the last week of May, the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian reported that the number of homicides increased to 420 in 2015 from 403 murders a year earlier. The report said that 85 percent of the 2015 homicides were perpetrated by firearms.

Authorities only confiscated 691 weapons in 2015, the Guardian reported, and only cleared 13.6 percent of reported homicides. The report blamed the violence on illegal guns in the hands of gangs and drug traffickers.
The Guardian cited experts who warned that the deteriorating economic and security situation in neighboring Venezuela could flood the local market with even more illegal guns. Only 15 kms and the Bocas del Dragon straits separate the island's southern peninsula from Venezuela's northern coast, making for a porous border that facilitates trafficking in both weapons and drugs.

Dr. Anthony P. Maingot, a regional security expert at Florida International University, told the Guardian that the southern peninsula has become one large market for drugs and firearms. He expressed particular concern regarding the thousands of AK-47s owned by the "thoroughly corrupted" Guardia Nacional in Venezuela, and the possibility of those and other weapons reaching Trinidad and Tobago as Venezuela continues to face institutional deterioration.

The report also cited local weapons expert Paul-Daniel Nahous, saying the scary scenario involved "getting a fully automatic rifle for a few loaves of bread and some packs of toilet paper."

InSight Crime Analysis

Homicide rates have risen in Trinidad and Tobago in conjunction with an increase in criminal organizations moving drugs through the Caribbean. The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has attributed a shift in trafficking to stepped up interdiction efforts in Central America. It is also not uncommon for the government of Trinidad and Tobago to blame Venezuela for crime issues on the island nation.

That so many of the homicides are attributed to gun violence is certainly a cause for alarm. The 85 percent figure far outstrips the global average of 50 percent and is well above the Latin American average of 75 percent, as reported by the Igarapé Institute. The same report notes that most of the weapons reaching Latin America come from the United States and Brazil, both legally and illegally. In 2014, the ATF (pdf) traced a number of firearms recovered on the island nation and found 46% originated from the United States.

The additional threat of an increase in the flow of weapons from Venezuela as a result of the rapidly deteriorating economic and social situation there can only make things worse for this small neighboring country increasingly threatened by gangs and organized crime.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CARIBBEAN / 27 APR 2020

Though described as a strategy to keep traffickers from exploiting the coronavirus pandemic, the US Navy’s recent deployment of warships…

ELITES AND CRIME / 22 OCT 2021

Business partners of Álex Saab have been indicted by US prosecutors on charges of being part of a multi-million dollar…

VENEZUELA / 8 JUL 2015

Pirates are reportedly attacking fishermen in Venezuelan waters, a striking illustration of the many ways various criminal actors make a…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Dirty Money and Tren de Aragua

29 OCT 2021

InSight Crime was delighted to support investigative reporting in the Americas through a workshop with our friends at Connectas, a non-profit journalism initiative that facilitates collaboration…