Sun | Dec 3, 2023

Former police commissioner linked to proliferation of guns, ammunition

Published:Saturday | June 3, 2023 | 12:25 AM
National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds addressing a People’s National Movement public meeting on Thursday night.
National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds addressing a People’s National Movement public meeting on Thursday night.

PORT OF SPAIN(CMC):

National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds has blamed “a very wild-card commissioner of police” who, he said, had in recent times defied government policy and allowed for a certain category of weapons and ammunition to be available to citizens in Trinidad and Tobago.

Hinds, addressing a public meeting of the ruling People’s National Movement in Malabar on Thursday night, did not name the “wild-card” commissioner, but said that the ammunition in question had been banned by the United Nations.

He said an estimated 280 military-grade weapons, used mainly by soldiers and military people in combat, had been recovered so far this year.

“In 2012, the police recovered 420 of them, by 2017, 1,064 illegal firearms were seized by the police, and 2022, 704; and as I speak to you today, about 280 firearms have been recovered.

“Many of them military-grade … carrying and using 5.56 and 7.62 ammunition, very, very much available around the place,” he aded.

Hinds said the authorities had seized more than 100 of those type of weapons and blamed these guns for the death of a woman, who was shot and killed in her bedroom while rival gangs were engaged in a war.

“Some time ago, the United Nations outlawed 7.6 ammunition, the kind of ammunition used in SLR (self-loading rifles) in our days because they are downright dangerous. But now they are proliferating in the society, and, sadly, outside of government policy within recent times, a very wild-card commissioner of police, as he then was, made 7.62 ammunition and weapons available to members of this country.”

Hinds said Trinidad and Tobago has at least 275 illegal “opportunities” for entry into the country.

“We have relatively few legal ports. We know for a long time, people are making use of these illegal ports of entry … to enter unseen, undetected, and of course, even at our legal ports, the complicitous behaviour on the part of employees of the state … employees of some of the courier firms and the various authorities that manage these ports, they have been making pathways for the illegal importation of drugs and guns on account of corruption and, in some cases, negligence.”

Hinds noted the crime challenge and the public health danger of losing two to five people daily, as well as shootings, wounding, home invasions, illegal quarrying, businessmen “suffering extortion and men demanding what they worked hard for”.

Hinds said that at the end of last month, 242 people had been murdered here, including 114 gang-related killings, followed by 31 drug-related murders and 21 revenge killings.