Sex slaves, human trafficking- use

Venezuelan women are trafficked and sold for US$1,500 to bar owners and brothels in Trinidad and Tobago, who then sell them for sex.

This is according to senior police officials behind the bust of a human-trafficking ring which saw two Central Division police officers arrested this week.

Police said warrants were executed in Cunupia and at Carlos Street, Woodbrook.

Some 46 Venezuelans said to be victims of human trafficking were rescued, including ten minors.

Several people, including a Chinese national and Venezuelan national, were charged and investigations continued which led to the arrest of the two police officers and another Venezuelan national.

At least half a dozen more people involved in this trafficking ring are expected to be arrested.

On Tuesday the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) stated that the officers — who also live in the Central district — were held with a Venezuelan national after their homes and lockers at the station were searched.

The operation included officers of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT), the Counter-Trafficking Unit and a Special Task Force established by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, with human trafficking being part of their overall mandate, the TTPS statement said.

Porous borders

Police said human trafficking is a multi-million-dollar industry and several rings have been busted in T&T.

This particular investigation commenced in November 2019.

“Victims indicated that they were sold for US$1,000 to $1,500 and had to engage in prostitution to repay their debts for the journey to Trinidad. Yes, ten minors in this current investigations (were rescued),” said a source.

The victims were recruited and transported to Trinidad from Venezuela and exploited.

The source indicted that this lucrative industry is well organised by the criminal network evidenced by the Anti-Gang charges.

The Express learnt that many persons were involved in the human-trafficking ring, including officials in key positions.

The network involves headhunters on the ground in Venezuela who search for the women and lure them to Trinidad with lies and promises of plenty money. Some are even taken against their will.

The women are then transported via boat, usually under the cover of night, and smuggled through unmanned parts of the borders.

They are all usually taken to one location where they are screened and even given drugs.

The Express learnt that the police officers held are one with approximately five years’ service and the other is a Special Reserve Police (SRP) officer with over ten years’ service.

The human-trafficking ring is also connected to other illicit and illegal criminal acts which fall under the Anti-Gang legislation, the Children’s Act as well as misbehaviour charges.

The Express was told that the offences are bailable, but it will be in the hands of the court as the criminal records of the accused, if any, will also be factored.

Over the past year the Special Task Force has been charged with the responsibility for dealing with human trafficking and has made several arrests.