Last update: 11-Dec-2013 5:04 pm
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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VOM’s Wayne Chance: Deportees behind Laventille crime wave
Criminal deportees are responsible for the recent spate of killings and gang warfare in Laventille. Wayne Chance, head of Vision on Mission (VOM), an organisation that rehabilitates ex-convicts, said scores of criminal deportees who enter the country and are not integrated into a support programme, or have no family to lend support, “find themselves back into a life of crime.”
Chance said many of the deportees had served jail terms for larceny, drug trafficking, possession of arms and ammunition, and shootings mainly in the United States before being returned to T&T. He said while VOM tries to integrate some of the deportees, many “fall through the cracks” and end up joining criminal gangs. He said one area the deportees are frequenting is Laventille. On Wednesday, Chance will be one of several speakers at a public consultation on deportees at Cascadia Hotel.
Chance said there are currently ten deportees at VOM. He said more than 100 had returned to T&T and 65 of them had been integrated. However, the other 35 cannot be located. Chance said quite a number of them are involved in crime in Laventille. “Most of them would not have been deported recently. They settled down and get to know the ins and outs and they set up their connections and run their routes in drugs and guns. They also do their hit work and so forth. They are involved in organised crime.”
Chance said one deportee who joined the programme was trained in the military to make bombs. “He was under the supervision of Special Branch for a while and then they leave him.” The deportee has since been integrated back into society, Chance said.
In May, during an official visit to this country by United States Vice-President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said there was a connection between criminal deportees and increased crime and violence in T&T and the rest of the Caribbean. She said the major problem was that many of the deportees left the region prior to adulthood and do not have ties to the countries to which they have been deported.
Persad-Bissessar called for improved information and intelligence-sharing on criminal deportees, including access to complete dossiers on medical and criminal history, as well as consideration of financial and technical assistance to establish reintegration programmes within Caricom member states.
Chance said the Government gives him $800 a month to provide food, clothing and shelter for each deportee but the actual cost is $3,500. He warned that if the Government fails to address the problem, crime will escalate. Minister of the People Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh said the Government has recognised the need to help the deportees and is establishing a deportee support unit. He said VOM will be provided with the necessary resources.
“These people come with sophisticated knowledge of crime, Mafia and how to make bombs and operate high-tech weaponry. We have to turn their lives around. We can’t afford to leave them on their own,” he said. Ramadharsingh said in the past up to 30 deportees would return home annually, but the figures are increasing because of America’s immigration laws and enforcement.
Some 3,292 Caricom nationals were deported from the US between October 2007 and July 14, 2008, with T&T receiving the third highest number, 311. Of this figure 228 were considered criminal deportees.
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