This country is facing the start of a Venezuelan crime wave, according to one criminologist.
That’s how Darius Figueira summed up the murders of two Venezuelans and police killing of two others in the past nine days.
On April 5, Venezuelan asylum seeker Alexander Cedeno Roroba was shot as he left the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) building on the outskirts of Port-of-Spain.
A week later, gunmen opened fire on Venezuelan national Jose Rodriquez while he was driving a white SUV in Glencoe, which crashed through a wall by Highland Plaza, Glencoe. He died from his injuries.
On Friday, two Venezuelans were among four men shot dead during a confrontation with police in Edinburgh.
The deceased have been identified as Miguel Velasquez and another only as “Freddie.”
Weighing in on the violence, Figueira said since Juan Guaido elected himself as Venezuela’s interim leader, Venezuelans have been coming to our shores under the control of Venezuela’s organised criminal gangs.
These hardcore Venezuelans, Figueira said, have been fleeing the border state near Colombia.
“They are prostituting under the directions and control of Venezuela’s organised crime which is disturbing the balance of forces on the ground in T&T’s gangland.”
Figueira said it was no hidden secret that Venezuelans have been coming in with AK-47 and AR-15 automatic rifles, drugs, ammunition, prostitutes and footsoldiers, as they continue to remain under the radar and form coalitions with local gangs in central, west and east Trinidad.
He said those Venezuelans have already affiliated themselves with local gangland operators and they are not afraid to die.
“The fact that Venezuelans were engaged in a shootout with the police this morning speaks volumes. The situation is escalating. They are replicating how they operate in Venezuela.”
Figueira said said the aim of these Venezuelans was to control turf and expand their illicit businesses.
“People are making them out to be victims. Many of them are not. That is an entirely different breed to what exists in gangland here.”
Last year, he said the government in Guyana had to move in additional troops to its western border with Venezuela to deal with heavily-armed Venezuelan gangs crossing the border, as they created havoc and lawlessness.
He said T&T could end up like Guyana.
“Closing the gate now is irrelevant,” he said, referring to Government’s move to register all illegal and legal Venezuelans living here.
“The Government do not want to accept the price we will pay for having them flocking into our country. They don’t want to understand the level of criminality that exists among them. They now have a foothold here and they are not going to give it away. These criminals are going to change the nature of violence in this country. The police would have a hard time on their hands as a Venezuelan crime wave has been launched,” Figueira said.
At a press conference yesterday, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith said he was cautious about the amnesty the State has offered to Venezuelan nationals.
Griffith said the registration process should be carefully done, as criminals were among those entering the country.