National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds says the 360-degree radar system is fully functional, but there is no coast guard fleet in the world that can patrol all legal and illegal ports of entry around the country.
During the Parliament sitting yesterday, Opposition MP for Naparima Rodney Charles noted the $234 million cocaine bust last week and asked the minister to state what urgent measures were being contemplated to ensure that the ports of entry were secured and to arrest the masterminds behind this incident.
Hinds said the matter is still under active investigation.
“Bearing in mind that persons charged in this bust are now before the courts, I want to take this opportunity and I hope my friend will join me, to congratulate the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and our international partners with whom collaboration is a daily occurrence,” he said.
One man, Keon Aberdeen of Las Cuevas, was charged on Monday with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking 168 kilogrammes of the illegal drug which has an estimated street value of $234,457,344.
He was denied bail on Tuesday when he appeared before a Port of Spain Magistrate.
He also appeared for the possession of a gun and ammunition.
Appearing before Magistrate Indar Jagroop, Aberdeen’s attorney Ian Brooks applied for bail on his behalf.
It was denied.
He was remanded into custody and is expected to re-appear on June 1.
The two other men held were released pending further investigations.
Hinds said these were issues of national security and the criminals were listening to these questions and the answers given.
“In light of that I would say that we have a radar system, it is now 360-degree fully functional watching what is happening around but there is no coast guard fleet in the world that has the capacity to patrol all of the ports of entry, legal or illegal. None. Trinidad and Tobago being no different,” he said.
Hinds said the country did have vessels and would have had more if the former People’s Partnership administration had not cancelled the order for three Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs).
He said the PNM Government in 2018 ordered two Cape Class vessels which were delivered in 2021 to protect the country’s borders.
Charles asked the minister why after eight years no drug mastermind had come before the courts and why the ports were not supplied with scanners so that guns, ammunition and drugs could not enter the country undetected.
Hinds said it was not correct to say that scanners were not being used at the ports.
He said the country had fixed scanners and mobile scanners and, like all other equipment, they needed upgrading and maintenance from time to time.