Army base coming for Moruga - Young

Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young says Gov­ern­ment plans to set up an army base in Moru­ga, as in­tel­li­gence-dri­ven op­er­a­tions show the area is prone to hu­man traf­fick­ing, smug­gling, drug traf­fick­ing and gun run­ning.

He made the com­ment dur­ing a tour of the area yes­ter­day. Af­ter meet­ing with res­i­dents from Basse Terre and Gran Chemin, Young vis­it­ed a pos­si­ble lo­ca­tion for the base. And dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at the Moru­ga Po­lice Sta­tion, he said the ex­plod­ing so­cio-eco­nom­ic cri­sis in Venezuela had es­ca­lat­ed the in­flux of Venezue­lans to Trinidad.

“We are not bury­ing our heads in the sand. We are not pre­tend­ing we don’t have an im­mi­grant flow. We are look­ing at es­tab­lish­ing an army base in Moru­ga so that there will be more per­ma­nen­cy,” Young ex­plained.

He added that the De­fence Force camp at La Ro­maine will al­so be up­grad­ed.

“Dur­ing my tour, I stopped at Camp La Ro­maine to get a first-hand un­der­stand­ing of camp La Ro­maine and I now in­tend to go and in­crease the in­fra­struc­ture at Camp La Ro­maine,” Young said.

He not­ed that the La Ro­maine camp was es­tab­lished in 2006 and since then geopo­lit­i­cal dy­nam­ics had changed, bring­ing the need for more sol­diers in the south­ern re­gion.

“As time passed the south­ern coast­line and op­er­a­tions in the south have be­come very im­por­tant and we have to pro­vide that sup­port to the T&T De­fence Force,” Young said.

He not­ed that sol­diers need­ed suit­able quar­ters from which to launch their op­er­a­tions and then re­turn to base for rest and re­cu­per­a­tion.

Young al­so re­vealed that mil­i­tary per­son­nel from the Unit­ed States Em­bassy were al­so work­ing in the Moru­ga re­gion.

Say­ing the teams will be in the area un­til East­er, Young said, “The De­fence Force is not on­ly here for law en­force­ment, they are here to as­sist with so­cial pro­grammes. They will be en­gaged in health fa­cil­i­ties, sport­ing camps and as­sist­ing with East­er ac­tiv­i­ties.”

He said the sol­diers will al­so as­sist in spruc­ing up a num­ber of schools.

“They will be work­ing close­ly with the US Army in terms of of­fer­ing hu­man­i­tar­i­an as­sis­tance,” he said.

He not­ed, how­ev­er, that the main mo­tive will be to en­gage in a col­lab­o­ra­tive crime erad­i­ca­tion dri­ve, adding that Gov­ern­ment in­tends to pull back on crim­i­nals who have held T&T un­der siege.

While there has been no in­crease in man­pow­er, Young said there is the strate­gic de­ploy­ment of teams based on in­tel­li­gence, which has proved suc­cess­ful in re­duc­ing il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ty in the re­gion. He al­so warned that peo­ple in­volved in ex­tor­tion were be­ing mon­i­tored.

“There are crim­i­nal el­e­ments who be­lieve they can en­gage in ex­tor­tion. We are very aware of it. Soon we will be en­gag­ing in in­tel­li­gence-dri­ven op­er­a­tions. We are not go­ing to tol­er­ate ex­tor­tion and we will push back on crim­i­nal el­e­ments who are en­gag­ing in ex­tor­tion,” Young said.

He did not give fur­ther de­tails but said, “We know boats are com­ing in here with hu­man traf­fick­ing, il­le­gal arms and am­mu­ni­tion, il­le­gal an­i­mals and nar­cotics.

“Since our crime ini­tia­tives be­gan we have seen a great re­duc­tion in the num­ber of boats and ves­sels com­ing in­land or off­shore. There is al­so a de­crease in nar­cotics, arms and am­mu­ni­tion. As we tight­en our bor­ders, we are pre­vent­ing stuff com­ing from the out­side.” —RAD­HI­CA DE SIL­VA

Photo by Kristian De Silva.

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