Thu | Dec 12, 2019

Police crackdown on major human trafficking ring in T&T

Published:Wednesday | October 9, 2019 | 9:46 AM
One of the 69 people rescued by police from a church in east Trinidad - CMC photo

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Police Commissioner Gary Griffith Wednesday said law enforcement authorities have “cracked what is the biggest situations pertaining to human trafficking in this country” after six people have been arrested at a church, which reportedly served as a rehabilitation centre.

The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service said during a sting operation early Wednesday, law enforcement officials were able to rescue 69 citizens from the church in Arouca.

They informed that those rescued range from ages “20 to their 60’s, all held captive, where most of them were in cages and some handcuffs”.

“As a result, thus far six peoples were arrested at the church, which is supposed to be a rehabilitation centre. Reports were given to senior officers months ago about possible imprisonment of persons and Commissioner Griffith, who spearheaded the operation, is now investigating possible negligence of duties of officers,” a police spokesperson said in a statement, noting that search warrants were issued pursuant to the Trafficking in Persons Act, after a period of monitoring and investigations.

Griffith speaking to reporters outside the church said that “we have now cracked what is the biggest situations pertaining to human trafficking in this country”.

He said some of those rescued have said “they have been here for a few years” and that “we have to investigate each and every situation.

He said a pastor is among those detained, adding “what we have seen relates to virtual slavery where persons have been in cages, we have reports from some of them they have been tortured.

“It’s a much bigger picture, there’s profit being made out of this. It involves family members deliberately sending their loves ones here and trying to extract the profits from the family,” he added.

Griffith said he would describe the scene at the church as being “barbaric, when you are actually seeing persons in this modern time in cages.

“Persons have been handcuffed, persons have been tortured, I think we have Tasers and again this is a situation of modern day slavery…and we are liaising directly with the DPP, “he said.

National Security Minister, Stuart Young, in a statement, he was “shocked and disturbed at the circumstances under which humans were being held.

“I remind persons that this is now an active and unfolding police investigation and I am certain that facts surrounding this disturbing matter will begin to be uncovered. Accordingly, it is prudent for little more to be said at this time and the TTPS should be permitted to do their work,” he said.

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