Drug dealers are finding it difficult to source their supply of marijuana because of the intensified border patrols instituted by T&T, says Prime Minister Patrick Manning.
"I spoke to a man on Sunday morning and he told me marijuana hard to come by and they ascribed that to those boats," Manning told a cottage meeting in Princes Town on Monday, in reference to Saturday's launch of six-fast patrol vessels. He lauded the results of this country's crime-fighting arsenal, but said the rest of the region remained vulnerable to drug traffickers. To this end, Manning pledged to make Trinidad and Tobago the guardian of the Caribbean to protect the region's borders from drug traders. After a walkabout in the Princes Town North constituency, Manning told the cottage meeting at St Michael's Anglican Primary School: "T&T must be our brother's keeper." Manning said the Government would be installing radar sites, similar to those established here, in Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia. "I expect that as we build 'Fortress Trinidad and Tobago,' they (drug dealers) are going to move on... and what my fear has been for a long time is that they will move from T&T to countries in the region that are much more vulnerable than T&T," he said.
Manning added that T&T approached and received approval from Caricom to sign two treaties, a mutual co-operation treaty and an airspace and maritime treaty. The treaties, he said, "allow any Caricom country to patrol the borders of any country in the region...what T&T intends to do is patrol by air, the borders of the Eastern Caribbean." He said T&T, under the treaties, would seek to track every boat that came into the region and examine its contents before they were allowed to come ashore. "It makes no sense you build 'Fortress T&T,' and Grenada is vulnerable...it is right there," he said. Referring to the commissioning of six fast patrol boats last Saturday and the increased capability of the Coast Guard, Manning sent a warning to those involved in illegal activities. "You can run but you can't hide," he said.
The first of the long-awaited offshore patrol vessels will arrive in this country in July, the second before the end of the year and the third six months after. The boat, he said, would "intercept them (drug dealers) long before they hit the shore." Manning boasted that this country's arsenal would be complete with the purchase of four armed helicopters, "so if we cannot deal with you from the sea, we can deal with you from the air."