Sunday, February 18, 2018

Dookeran: No diplomatic note on bust

Rowley: We expect Govt to co-operate


Mark Fraser

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran yesterday categorically denied there was any diplomatic note from the United States Department of Justice at his ministry, regarding the cocaine bust.

The Guardian and Newsday yesterday reported the US State Department of Justice had issued a diplomatic note on Thursday to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for provisional warrants to be issued for three suspects in the $644 million bust. 

However, as he entered the Parliament building at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, in Port of Spain, Doo­ke­ran said: “We have received no diplomatic note on this matter.”

Told about the story in the newspapers, Dookeran reit­erated: “We have not yet received any diplomatic note on this matter.”

Asked whether he was notified about any impending note, he said: “No.” 

Dookeran declined to comment on what the matter was doing to the country’s image. 

“That is a separate issue and I don’t want to interfere with what is happening out there (with respect to the investigations),” he said.

Meanwhile, Opposition Lead­er Keith Rowley said yesterday the Opposition was hear­tened by the fact that the US Drug Enforcement Agency caught this shipment and were involved in the investiga­tion. 

“And we expect that the Go­­vernment of Trinidad and Tobago will co-operate fully in assisting the DEA in bringing this particular issue to a successful conclusion,” he said.

“But it leaves us with a country with its borders still wide open. This is the outcome of a situation where Tri­nidad and Tobago is an invi­-

tation to drug dealers who know that our borders are wide open and that there is a Government which does not care about our national security. 

“We cannot protect ourselves from these drug deal­­ers. We are a sitting duck with respect to them (drug dealers) using our facilities, our trading arrangements to tranship their illicit cargo. 

“And I am sure that there are other instances where drugs passed through here and we didn’t know about it,” he said. 

“This Government dismantled our national security apparatus and we are now naked in the world,” he added. 

Rowley said National Security Minister Gary Griffith tried to insult the population by suggesting it was this country which provided the tip which led to the seizure. 

“All the nonsense about locking down here and closing down there, that has nothing to do with providing us with national security. The Government has been shown to be sleeping on the job. The country is exposed and we are embarrassed in this situation,” he said. 

“We demand that the Government take steps to protect the people of Trinidad and Tobago by securing our borders,” he added. 

He said the Opposition was eagerly awaiting the outcome of the US enquiries into this matter.