Sunday, February 18, 2018

$107m in ganja destroyed in Biche forest

 A JOINT operation among this country’s National Security agencies resulted in the eradication of marijuana valued at $107 million in Biche on Monday.

National Security Minister Gary Griffith yesterday applauded the efforts of this country’s law-enforcement officials, describing the drug discovery as the largest in this country in at least a decade.

“The National Operations Centre (NOC) successfully coordinated a joint NOC/TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service) marijuana eradication operation in the Biche forest,” a release from the National Security Ministry stated yesterday.

“This operation netted the destruction of marijuana fields to the street value of $107 million,” the release stated.

Griffith, along with NOC Director Commander Garvin Heerah and NOC strategic coordinator Mervyn Richardson yesterday held a news conference at the National Security Ministry’s Temple Court head office at Abercromby Street, Port of Spain, to divulge details on the find.

Heerah said the “massive eradication” exer­cise took place between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday. He said it is a start to “robust approaches” to take part from now on to ensure a “drug-free and safe country”.

Richardson said the bust, which he described as a “golden achievement”, was only the “tip of the iceberg” and other “escapades” into the forested areas of this country are being planned.

No one has been arrested as yet.

Griffith said the bust was the result of a tip-off.

He said citizens continue to “discredit and not look at the success” of this country’s law enforcement agencies. Griffith said much has been said about the US$100 million cocaine bust made in Norfolk by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently.

Customs and Border Protection officers seized 732 pounds of cocaine concealed in cans bearing the labels of Trinidad Orange and Grapefruit juices at the Port of Norfolk in Virginia, USA, on December 20 last year.

“We have seen and heard so much about the great DEA and what they have achieved, and very little about the successes of our agencies,” Griffith said.

Griffith said local law enforcement was able to help in the seizure of 800 kilogrammes of cocaine off Azores by the Spanish Guardia on sailing yacht Bucannero.

The value of this seizure was three times that of the DEA bust and valued at US$300 million, he said.

He said local law enforcement was also integral in the seizure in 310 kilogrammes of cocaine by French Customs on sailing yacht Blue Eye in Martinique.

The value of that bust was US$100 million.

Griffith said information about these two busts was constantly sent to the media, but never published.

“It is very unfortunate that people always seem to find things as half empty. I am certainly not here to win votes, I am here to do a job. Someone actually told me recently that the job of a politician is to make sure you say and do the right thing to win votes, but apparently I probably missed that class. I do not think I can ever be a politician. I was trained as a soldier and I am trained and qualified as somebody involved in security and I am here to do a job,” Griffith said.

“My job is not to win votes, but to do what is required to provide safety and security for this nation,” he said.

Griffith said he would continue to remain mum on the DEA bust, as he has no intention “to drop the ball”.

“Our intelligence agencies will continue to work with the United States intelligence agencies on this matter, but again people seem to want to insist they want more information on this matter. I am trying to get us out of that banana-republic mentality,” Griffith said.

He called on law-abiding citizens to continue to provide tips to local law enforcement.

“You have no obligation to defend these individuals (criminals). Your obligation is to be a patriot to this country,” he said.

Griffith said so far this Carnival has been one of the safest, and encouraged citizens to ensure it remains that way.

“Try not to be your worst behaviour, try not to behave the worst and, regardless of whichever fete you go to, whether it be a small people party or a big people party, enjoy yourself, live your life and if it is we have a safe and secure Carnival Trinidad and Tobago citi­zens, we are indeed the happiest people alive,” he said. —Joel Julien