Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has assured the public that "big fish" criminals are being targeted and caught by law enforcement officials during the state of emergency. Ramlogan was speaking at yesterday's post-Cabinet media briefing, held at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair Avenue, St Clair.
He was responding to public criticisms that the state of emergency had failed to net any "big fish" and had only managed to catch the "small fries" in the criminal world. Ramlogan said: "The idea that we are not going after the big fish is incorrect. People seem to think these gangs and gang leaders are small fries. The gangs we are after are very organised, they are structured, it is a criminal enterprise."
He said the high levels of illegal activity and the amount of money involved in their activities made them "very big fish." Ramlogan said the targeted gangs were highly sophisticated, with rankings, street status, personal creeds, colours and dress codes. He said the perception that the Government was failing to target and catch the "big fish" criminals was "totally misconstrued." Ramlogan said: "To think that we are not going after these big fish is wrong. We are going after the big fish and we are catching the big fish."
Pressed by the media as to whether it was the conviction rate versus the arrest rate that would be used to determine the success of the exercise, Ramlogan said convictions would be in hands of the department of prosecutions.
He said the success of the state of emergency exercise would be determined according to the number of arrests and seizures. Ramlogan said thus far, the exercise had been a "resounding success." Ramlogan said it was "phenomenal" that four people were being arrested every hour. He said that was according to his estimation of 315 arrests in 87 hours. He said the Government's decision to declare a state of emergency was catching on in other countries. The AG said there were newspaper report coming out of St Kitts that the Opposition was advising the Government to consider "a similar option" where gang-related violence was posing a problem. "The problem of gang-related violence and violent crime and that kind of escalation and upsurge is not unique to Trinidad and Tobago and the actions and decisive...the firm action taken by this government is one that is not in any sense isolated or in a vacuum arbitrary," he said.
Ramlogan said a committee had been set up with representatives from the T&T Prisons, Police Service, Defence Force and the Ministry of National Security regarding capacity at the jails. He called on citizens to continue to provide "intelligence." He said asked those living in areas suspected of allowing the entry of illegal firearms into the country such as Toco, Maracas and Manzanilla to come forward with information. "This is your time to share intelligence with the police and the army so that we as a Government and as one people can take action and clamp down on these illegal activities in your communities," Ramlogan said.
Alicia Llanos and Rhonda Krystal Rambally