Police Commissioner Gary Griffith wants Venezuelans suspected to be involved in criminal activity to be deported immediately.
Speaking one day after the National Security Minister announced an amnesty policy for Venezuelans in this country, Griffith said “I am asking for consideration now be given (although) they may have an amnesty but if based on law enforcement intelligence any individual who is here as an illegal immigrant and has been given an amnesty, based on suspicion, based on intelligence of that individual being involved in any questionable activity and that individual is red flagged, that person is immediately deported.”
Griffith told the media at a press briefing at the Police Administration building on Friday, “I need to ensure that persons of interest do not easily find an opportunity to get in here and to be involved in criminal activity. What they are basically getting is a get out of jail free card.”
He expressed concern about the rising number of Venezuelans involved in criminal activity as well recent murders of Venezuelan nationals.
“The concern that (we) the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service have, is that over the last three weeks, three Venezuelan nationals have been killed,” he said in reference to the murders of Jose Rodriguez, Alexander Cedeno Roroba and Maickal Martinez.
Rodriguez was shot dead in the front seat of a SUV while driving in Glencoe on Thursday, Martinez died after being shot in Laventille on April 5, while Roroba was shot dead on De Verteuil Street, Woodbrook a short distance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office on Ariapita Avenue a day before Martinez was shot.
Griffith said: “The reports have shown that these three Venezuelan nationals have been involved in certain very questionable activities, involved with very questionable criminal elements especially in the Western Division and Port-of-Spain.”
“Just last night two other Venezuelan nationals were also killed while trying to confront police officers with firearms. There are several other reports. The point that I am bringing to the attention of the public is as much it is we are doing the charitable thing to help, my concern is that charity must begin at home,” he said.
Griffith said many Venezuelans who arrived in the country illegally were being drawn to crime.
“We have pinpointed through our intelligence that many of these individuals are entering here illegally, they do not know where they are going to work so they are easily manipulated and lured by gang leaders to work for them,” he said.
But he was also concerned that “there is the other aspect, where other Venezuelan nationals who have been involved in criminal activity have now seen here as a better option for them to be involved in criminal activity, inclusive of drug dealing and gang activity.”
Griffith pointed out the recent human trafficking case involving Venezuelan minors as another example of illegal immigrants being lured into criminal activity.