National Security Minister Jack Warner yesterday vowed to go after the "Mr Bigs" of this country who were in high places and are protected by politicians.
Warner made the statements in his contribution to the Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago and Anti Terrorism Bill 2012 at the Parliament sitting at Tower D of the Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain. The bill was passed.
"Mr Big" first came to the attention of the public six years ago when former prime minister Patrick Manning at a Parliament sitting said that this person was responsible for the crime wave in the country.
Warner, who was under probe himself by law enforcement for possible breaches of this country's laws with respect to allegations of bribes paid to members of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) last year, dismissed insults hurled by the Opposition, saying he slept soundly at night.
He said while people were targeting him and demanding that he be removed from the cabinet of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, there were "astute businessmen" who were laundering money and funding drugs, guns and prostitution in the country.
"Money laundering is as pervasive as you can imagine and there are people in high places in this country, who you least suspect, who politicians front for and go and defend and say move Jack Warner, Jack Warner has to go. It's coming and when they are flushed out a lot of things will be exposed and time will tell," said Warner.
These criminals, said Warner, launder money through fuel bunkering, casinos, sport bars and brothels.
He said they also put their businesses in their wife's name and build apartments all over the country — including Richplain, Diego Martin.
Warner claimed that the wall to one of these apartments fell last week with the heavy downpour in Diego Martin.
Warner said that the "Mr Bigs" were the ones behind the drugs in the country.
"The drug trade is not some little boys with five ounce of coke in the street you know...the drug trade have some big big guys who are backed and supported not on this side by us. I won't say by who," said Warner.
"Neither by us!" shouted Opposition chief whip Marlene McDonald.
"We are going after them and who vex, vex....they are spoiling our young people, our children are in danger...Mr Speaker we have to find the Mr Bigs of this country and put them where they belong," said Warner.
"I have no doubt that in this country there is an underground arms importation and trade networks, I also have no doubt that in this country there are people who are involved in human trafficking and exploitation of women from Latin America in particular," said Warner.
He said "dirty money" must be prevented from being invested in the criminal economy as it comes back into the system and allows money launderers to fuel and fund crime.
Warner further pointed to a report from the United Nations on drugs which stated that criminal proceeds as of 2009 amounted to US$2.1 trillion.
The report, he said, stated that in 2009, 95 per cent of all cocaine related outflows worldwide takes place from countries in North America (US$10 billion), South America (US$7 billion) and Europe (US$7 billion).
Warner said it is estimated that US$6 billion of this is directed to the Caribbean and he emphasised that these were the figures for 2009 and three years later they would have increased.
Warner also said when officials of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) come to this country on August 27 and 28, Government members are safe.
"Let the FATF come, because I tell you something, when the FATF comes, nobody on this side has any cause to run, nobody on this side has any cause to hide," he said.
"Neither on this side!" asserted McDonald.