Sep
04
Corruption, Cocaine and Murder in Trinidad


come on take a walk tournament let’s here go be scared so we’re here in East Port of Spain Trinidad and when people think of Trinidad usually they think of steel pan drums carnival celebrations and good times and turn it out self it’s a pretty rich country they’ve got plenty of oil and gas deposits and the GDP per capita here is eighteen thousand unfortunately over the past 15 years Trinidad sins murder rate go from about a hundred a year to five hundred a year and that’s mostly dude off warring gang factions in neighborhoods below me like Lavin teal which fight ruthless turf wars sometimes over just one block so how do these gangs get so powerful many of them have gotten intertwined in politics doing favors for politicians and receiving lucrative covering contracts for Public Works and construction projects meant to help alleviate unemployment adding to that Trinidad is only seven miles away from Venezuela in the past few years it has re-emerged as a major transshipment point for drugs to West Africa and the United States border patrol officers say they found 732 pounds worth of cocaine a recent bust in Virginia had over a hundred million dollars worth of cocaine that originated in Trinidad so much cocaine we can’t even tell you where we shot this video while the drugs when we stop and turn it out temporarily the guns brought in as protection stay many on the island think that corrupt politicians and business leaders are heavily involved and they say that this culture of corruption and impunity filters down to the street level or do not fear the rule of law we’re on our way to meet how grieves a former actor now turned community activist who works with a lot of the local gangs he’s one of the few people who can move throughout all territories how where are we right now we’re in Canada and this community’s been devastated by recent fighting between the guns several families have been moved out the buildings have been condemned we could see where walls have been broken long bullet holes all throughout the community was one gang there and some years ago the gang broke into almost five factions we unwritten murderous rage and the boys will tell you that now the kitchen is at war with the bedroom Namie hip they have four people who they grew up among they share the same house almost once a week they’ll be shooting in the area and the government is powerless to stop it powerless then just not focus the government has tried a number of tools to stop the violence including curfews and anti-gang legislation passed in 2011 that carries a possible jail sentence of 20 years just for being in a gang most of the responsibility though falls on Trinidad’s in battle police force who have been criticized recently for extrajudicial killing and over aggressive policing we went to meet up with the Northeast Division Task Force so this is an Uzi that these guys pulled off a gangster about two nights ago there’s a shootout and they killed two people we’re about to go on patrol with the Northeast Division Task Force and turn that poor Spain for what we’re told they’re sort of the baddest cops out there right now and this is why because they pull this off people that shoot at them our guide was inspector Roger Alexander a large man with a fearsome reputation well known as an officer not to be trifled with so we been at the police station for about five minutes they’re saying it was basically a quiet night a call just went over a guy got shot six times so we’re heading out right now with the task force to see what’s going on it right now your city place to bury this month everybody look up it’s crazy that was Friday night and there’s nobody exactly on the souls anything good up here anything we tried you see the shells right there we do my dues are a lot over here right at the scene of a shooting that just happens we heard over the speaker that the guy was shot six times blood and shells everywhere it’s pretty tense around here we’re being told not to get too close but the inspector is a large man and I’m gonna hide behind him in case anything happens so what happened I mean how do these gangs just take control like this just money drug yeah to war there are some people calling themselves Rasta City yeah and some is the Muslims trust the city of Apollo many Muslims of a job – so they’re killing out each other back and forth back and forth back there welcome for some people near and somebody has considered herself community leaders but then those community leaders say about getting jobs roots building construction in the area to help use them the government exactly yeah what happened to is that wrong instead of treating it only that we also want the cheat we did not configure aspect of detail these government contracts for programs originally created as a means of sharing Trinidad and Tobago oil and gas wealth have backfired and given way to corruption working to strengthen the very gangs the government is trying to rein in it’s making our job nine times harder because long time when we knew all the Harris was jobs and guns and these are common do robberies and we say Ketchum well how do you catch a man know who’s getting legal money it’s a little more difficult it’s easy to hire two does it feel sometimes like like you’re fighting a losing battle yeah honestly the police are frustrated in this country because a crime rate is going up public confidence and policing is at an all-time low on police don’t get the kind of respect that they would hope for in a country and a lot of times the police have been fingered in a lot of um sort of unsavory practices as well the traditional methods of law enforcement aren’t working as quickly they’re not coming up with much that’s innovative and then creative and there’s a certain level of frustration so what we see at the end of the day sometimes is that the criminals are pretty much shot dead instead of going through the work to bring them in alive to prosecute them and to probably get that information to beef up your intelligence to really decimate the kind of organizations and criminal units you’re seeing on the street we’re not seeing that so I guess shooting criminals and you know dead has become the easy way out for lloyd for someone the inspector wanted to show us the house where his men killed two alleged gangsters the night before smack dab in the front lines of a raging gang war area if you call me any day it might for me to a retailer see people running all our bills all right they know we kind of know nonsense along that too so they don’t take my chances with us so would you come here by yourself in this car you’d only come with two or three other police officer cars with you okay yeah all right come over so other cops are the other normal cops would they come here by themselves no never huh all right wait up there come on take a walk tournament let’s see what you got should I be scared right now we’re at the borderline 11 – um sort of this dividing line or there’s gang war between the Muslims and Rasta City and this is close to where there was a shootout a few days ago oh what a breath this is the hills right here this high ground yeah but that’s what went to you while ago and fight you nerd order yeah good one – so they put the gun through their starfire Jesus that’s all right so the office I came here boom exchange you could go in genuine soir yeah never got along the next one I come over no one started you looking to put this bullet holes all over here a lot of blood still flies buzzing around fresh blood thick whenever we ask people about what happened to change Trinidad that’s such a violent place where people are willing to take on the police most traced it to one event that changed the country forever in 1990 Trinidad was home to the only attempted militant Islamic overthrow of a government in the Western Hemisphere they said that after the coup in 1998 was sort of a wake-up point for a lot of people in these communities that the government had no control and the way to solve a problem was with guns now we’re talking that school affected the nation the society on a whole physically psychologically and otherwise it well damaged please and it would have set the trend that you know what if you have a problem let’s take on new forces let’s take on the government let’s whole MIB it showed the weakness it shows weakness and when when weakness is exposed many people take advantage of weakness on July 27th 1990 a man named Abu Bakr the leader of an Islamic group called Jamaat al-islamiyya and 115 of his followers violently took over TV stations and government buildings including the Parliament and laid siege to the country for six days at 6:00 p.m. this afternoon the government of trinidad and tobago was overthrown 24 people were killed in the chaos and they even shot the prime minister because of an amnesty negotiation they were free two years later and have been continuously in trouble since then we went to Abu Bakr’s compound to talk to him about what went wrong in Trinidad I’ve been charged for murder I’ve been charged for conspiracy to murder I’ve been charged for treason I’ve been charged for terrorism I’ve been charged for guns and ammunition nothing has stuck because they just fabricated all these cases against me we’re hearing a lot now that the narco trade here is ramping up a lot is it coming from is it coming from politicians is it coming from businesspeople where is it coming from everybody’s in the police everybody is in the course guys what is involved next one neighbor seven matches Venezuela and Endre next two very serious Colombia is we all right here this is a transshipment point one look at the affluence in saying that and and and you will know in Brooklyn you can find the affluence that exists in Trinidad nowhere you know we saw in the newspaper that the unemployment rate was was 4% do you think that’s accurate no it’s not accurate far from being a key the lie as a big lie there isn’t a single day without a mother there too why people would be killing each other if they they I employed but there was thought there was probably 20 years ago you know and there’s poverty now but you don’t see you didn’t see 500 murders a year 20 years ago now you see for me I was in charge because he was hard I’m telling you I was in charge 20 20 years ago before 1990 I was in charge of the ground just before nineteen none of the Berner rates none of the motorists which a hundred because we cleaned up the drugs we cleaned up everything after you go to jail what happens you lose power of the streets no no no we just left it you just left the street if we left it we say that’s what you want well we left it and that was the problem no we left it who’s controlling it right now control anyone who’s controlling the streets out of control because all the young people just come up after them who don’t have the experience of the streets who didn’t have the wheel the control I mean and and a lot of the people who were the community leaders we were people who were now organization we control the street so are we getting better or we’re getting Willis it’s getting worse every day explode there is a perpetual quest for dominance you go to sleep Friday night and the person that was dominant Friday Saturday morning they find him dead then starts all over again and instability starts all over again and evolve power starts all over again without Parker or another strong man in power different leaders are doing whatever is necessary to assert control over territory and contracts the gangs have been enshrined in the consciousness of communities the gangs play a very strategic role when it comes to the distribution of wealth in our communities and a lot of our communities have felt neglected for a very long time from government so they’re not getting the jobs from government they’re not getting the kind of resources they want from the government but somehow the gang seems to be the government in our communities and in trinidad and tobago they don’t call themselves gangs they see themselves more as community groups more as organizations more as community leaders these are the leaders of the community who are receiving these contracts from government to provide the kind of jobs it could be a payback for getting the votes as well as they see themselves as business organization and that business can run from government contracts to drugs it’s whatever is the big business on the street today and they’re gonna get involved in that no business passes them by we had to beat some Gardens a neighborhood notorious for being a Rasta City stronghold to talk to Spanish Beechum’s community leader some consider him a gang leader but to a lot of people in the community he’s the only one bringing jobs and social services to the impoverished neighborhood Spanish so uh where are we right now what’s this neighborhood what’s it like trying for should be dumb Gardens mr. koala Chauncey Tony listen oh is it is classes ghetto is a part of the country as other people might be going to more property than normal it seems like no one’s really helping out here so you’re building some houses as much as I could do I’m a registered contractor I work hard for y1 once I get will from the government and thing i do in money I’d spend it in the things we had helped employer and I know Olivia builds our own you talk to some of the police and some of the some of the politicians and they point to you when they say is a community leader but he’s a gang leader – you think that’s not fair no it can’t be fair I don’t know gang leader I don’t order nobody children the one kill I don’t know each other one robbed or T for kidnap or not not ease up your company are my life son but how many about one Sarah Sarah twice what happened they came for you they came to you in your house or you were driving Oh driver no cover although certain places man might start up on fire shots at a vehicle I Drive you know what’s about 9 or 10 shots shoot of the vehicle and that was how long ago was that last year last year damn and you got people recognize that car so I imagine you gotta be you I’d be real careful all the time yeah I was driving the my driver you know I really Drive one thing too long but it’s all because they I named Spanish and I live in vitamin or somebody for my next community might see me and be done with any people as homogeneous oh crap on from becoming a car load and certain parts of Canada River from sue not allowed and the tommy a misogynist and what’s going on right here your you got turntables you got of speakers you’re putting in except on thing puzzles I walk I buy a music I like that I drop enough besides bringing jobs Spanish always puts on events like soccer matches and parties to support his community voice over here Spanish is actually building this for the people in the community and it’s just a little taste of how these community leaders really take care of their own and while they have so much respect the party was a really good time it was clear that there was a lot of love in the community and that everyone took care of each other almost like a big family it was easy to forget that this neighborhood was off in a warzone and that other gang sometimes came to these parties and shot them up now that we were in with Spanish we were able to meet some of the guys actually pulling the triggers in these gang wars what’d you say and turn that when you drink like this OPA what’d you say Cheers that’s what we say in New York sometimes right look I am what I am it means to life into life ready why do you own why do you have to carry that around why do you feel the need you gotta carry a firearm I don’t know that doesn’t maybe we got to defend yourself you get to who are you who are you defending yourself against from the here is Manny Manny is let’s flash outside with anybody anybody anybody any time any day no one from on this ends can more lions and some finesse and goes to that and shots go fine that’s it that’s it done done the finish here damn have you lost a lot of friends I mean we know the murder rate here is crazy a lot M of the last touch that’s fire to go to have people pick up rapid-fire automatic weapons you know the police they’re going after the young kids on the streets the big fish no one’s going after the big fish no look I’m good deal direct big fish are what politicians businessmen there is immune and they’re the ones who are bringing the drugs and – yeah then behind Akutan and then behind the curtain I’m hiding yeah he’s a mess in the front line the pool is long the way extra money they take money of course and what about the drugs and the guns whereas that comes from Venezuela where’s it come from come from Venezuela which is the politician Adam does get it in much easier yeah we hear that Coast Guard all them they just take bribes yes I already think you already answered it unknown well you could see how about ten years though in the holding change up everybody started to take bribe who was God puh-leeze everybody only dollar saying and that’s when the murder rate started going really really how many action starts yeah because everybody ypc and you keep money changes everything yeah contracts money belongs our money money is power it isn’t the street guys who are making the serious money in Trinidad dready said something we kept hearing behind the drug trade in the gangs are what Trinidadians called the big fish the untouchable nameless elites who treat the country like their own narco-state buy off politicians and foster endemic corruption that affects all levels of society to understand the muder it to understand the coup and to understand all the complexities must understand the games the politicians have played young people are seeing that sometimes our politicians doing again what they want and they’re not seeing any sort of repercussions any sort of consequences the reality is is that the most powerful players who are resident internally Lisa drug-free have then they need to purchase impunity from this state they have to be political financiers and that is what drives the endemic corruption of the society when people speak of corruption in society all they look at is the most visible means is the lower-level ones the ones who get caught taking a bribe and things like that the traffickers who live in rural and tobago they wield power within the state structure to the extent that nobody in the state structure can bring them down they are in fact untouchable until the authorities in Trinidad are ready to go after the big fish it doesn’t seem like much will change on the ground literally a few thousand people have been killed in these areas we need help you think that some of that mines coming from all the oil that’s on the island would trickle down here but from everything everyone’s telling us it doesn’t come down here at all no because we don’t see here as part of Trinidad we see here as I saw a diseased part that we wish we would go away I tell people if your left kidney is cancerous and you ignore it it will kill you if you focus on the parts of your body that healthy and you see that left kidneys just appeared on a bother you going today and the nation is dying because we preach in a part of us as we will grow we enjoy a pond it