On the weekend of the 25-26 November 2017 another semi submersible vessel was interdicted in the North West District of Guyana. This is the second such vessel interdicted in the same district in Guyana with the first in 2014. This confirms that Guyana is now a premier operational drug trafficking base and that semi submersibles are leaving Guyana loaded with product for Brazil and up the Eastern Caribbean Trafficking Pipeline (ECTP). The illicit landing strips, the illicit air flights and the semi submersible construction and repair operations in Guyana are then linked and under the control of the MTTOs. The three jump off points for the ECTP are then Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname. The impact of the volume of product moved via this pipeline is seen in the escalating murder/homicide rates for territories previously by passed by the murder surge of the Caribbean basin. These are Tobago: 10 murders to date, St Vincent 39 as at November 27, 2017 and 40 in 2016, Antigua & Barbuda 19 murders as at November 16, 2017 the highest since 2008 when the figure was 17 and the British Virgin Islands with 10 as at November 17, 2017 with 9 murders in 2008 being the previous high. From 2009 to 2016 there were 4 murders each per year. In St Lucia the number was 54 as at November 19, 2017. What is now apparent are raging ganja wars from T&T up the island chain which flow with the dramatic changes to the illicit drug trade along the pipeline brought about by the hegemony of the MTTOs. In 2018 it is business as usual. Pax Mexicana!
The Opioid Epidemic Created by the Licit Drug Trade in the USA
In the National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA) Summary 2015 of the DEA the number of drug poisoning deaths for the period 2008 to 2015 by medications which include controlled prescription drugs (CPDs) were 200,113 persons, for heroin 51,506 persons and cocaine 39,890 persons. Licit controlled and uncontrolled drugs are then the major cause of drug poisoning deaths and in this category CPD opioids are the dominant cause of drug poisoning death. For the period 2007 to 2013 drug poisoning deaths caused by CPDs opioid analgesics was 110,615 persons with heroin 30,338 persons and cocaine 34,203 persons. The opioid epidemic in the USA has then two realities that impact the drug market for opioids: CPD manufactured, distributed and retailed via a regulatory structure and the illicit market where heroin, and licit and illicitly manufactured opioids are marketed at the wholesale and retail levels. The DEA in its 2017 NDTA states: “The threat posed by controlled prescription drug (CPD) abuse is prevalent. Every year since 2001, CPDs, especially opioid analgesics have been linked to the largest number of overdose deaths of any illicit drug class, outpacing those for cocaine and heroin combined.” Again the 2017 report states: “the number of individuals reporting current use of CPDs is still more than those reporting use of cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, MDMA, phencyclidine (PCP) combined” The discourse of the opioid epidemic in the USA is then aggressively seeking to mask the reality that the opioid epidemic is in fact the failure of the regulated licit market for opioid analgesics. A licit drug trade fostered by deliberate attempts to subvert the regulatory structure combined with the failure to regulate and the intervention of ruling politicians to weaken the regulatory structure. These measures have unleashed on the US population a CPD opioid addiction problem which has spawned an illicit opioid market joined at the hips with the CPDs supplied opioid drug market. Where demand for opioids generated by supply from the licit market is now entering illicit opioid markets seeking affordable and regular supply. With the Mexican traffickers responding to this demand by raising the purity and lowering the price of its heroin to ensure that illicit opioid markets under their control can hold on to and generate new customers on a sustainable basis. This strategy drives the sale of fentanyl on illicit opioids markets by the Mexican traffickers today.
On the extent of the CPD opioid abuse problem in the USA the 2017 NDTA states: “Survey, treatment and demand data indicate epidemic levels of CPD abuse. More individuals report current use of CPDs for cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined, making CPD use second only to marijuana. In 2014, there were 128,175 treatment admissions to publicly-funded facilities for non-heroin opiates/synthetic abuse, a decrease of approximately 32 per cent since 2011, when 188,920 admissions were reported.” The use of the generic concept controlled prescription drug (CPD) is another instrument of the discourse to mask the reality of the epidemic spawned by the licit drug trade in opioid analgesics. The use of persons admitting themselves to interventions that are publicly funded for treating with opioid addiction is also a very limited measurement tool of the expanse of the use of and the number of addictions to opioids in the population of the USA. The explanation the DEA gives for the decline in persons presenting themselves for intervention programmes in public funded facilities is as follows in the 2017 NDTA: “This decline in part can be attributed to CPD abusers switching to heroin or other illicit opioids. Some CPD abusers, when unable to obtain or afford CPDs, began using heroin as a cheaper alternative offering similar opioid-like effects. Other reasons for the decline in admissions could include the success of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, pill abusers seeking treatment at private facilities and increased efforts from law enforcement and public health entities.” The DEA simply has no research backed explanation for the decline in admissions to publicly funded treatment facilities but it admits that the licit drug trade in opioids created demand for illicit opioids. This illicit demand in fact resurrected the heroin market of the USA in the 21st century constituting a gift to Mexican trafficking organisations. The 2015 NDTA on the issue of abuse states: “The number of treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities for non-heroin/synthetic opiates in 2012 was 36.5 per cent higher than the number in 2008; however the number of admissions declined from 2011 to 2012.” The political need to illustrate success in the opioid war therefore accounts for this discursive line which masks the reality of addiction on the ground, how the victims of addiction to opioids deal with their existential reality, how the state responds to their addiction and addiction driven behaviour and the expanse of demand for opioids in the US diet for drugs. The politics of reporting any decline is illustrated in the 2017 NDTA with Figure 18 titled “Number of Admissions to Publicly Licensed Treatment Facilities by Primary Substance, 2014” which covers the period 2009 to 2014 where 1,828,413 persons (an average of 130,601 persons per year) were admitted for treatment with heroin as the primary substance and 949,833 persons (an average of 67,846 persons per year) were admitted for treatment with non-heroin opiates/synthetics as the primary substance. One cannot conclude from these admittance statistics that heroin abuse in the USA dwarfs CPD abuse as the DEA says no. What then is apparent for the period according to the DEA report is that more heroin abusers enter treatment facilities than CPD abusers which is linked to the reality that one is a licit product whilst the other is illicit and heavily policed and sanctioned. CPD abusers therefore show an inclination to evade treatment facilities which impacts the annual number entering treatment. This attitude flows from the discourse of licit opioid use unleashed in the USA which promises to banish pain with very little threat to the welfare and well-being of the user. A discourse which denies the pharmacology of the opioid to enable maximisation of profit for licit enterprises.
All licit and illicit drug markets are driven by the nexus of supply and demand especially so in the drug business where supply begets demand. The supply side of the licit opioid drug market then impacts both the licit and illicit opioid markets of the USA. The supply side of the CPD market is potently illustrated in the 2016 NDTA figure 36 “Number of Dosage Units of Opioid Narcotics Disbursed to Retail Level Purchases by U.S. Distributors 2006-2015 (in billions)” where for the period 147.5 Billion units were disbursed to retail level purchases. When the figure for 2016 is added it rises to 161.5 Billion units. For the period 2006 to 2016 the monthly average is 14.68 Billion units. With an estimated 2017 US population of 325.3 million persons the number of dosage units disbursed at the retail level per monthly average amounts to 45 dosage units for every man, woman and child in the USA on a monthly basis. This not the supply side of a licit regulated opioid market where a drug is being prescribed to deal with a medical problem fully cognisant of the threats posed by the drug to the user and the limitations of the drug in dealing with the problem it was prescribed for. This is a licit regulated market where regulatory agencies have failed to prevent the deliberate strategy to evolve a licit drug market into a hybrid licit drug market. Where the pursuit of the maximisation of profit has subverted regulation and breached the safety of end users of licit opioids. The 2016 and 2017 NDTA report that 99.2 million dosage units were lost for the period 2009 to 2016 which potently illustrates that the epidemic is the product of and fed by the licit supply of opioids acquired through the regulatory process of prescription and purchase of the prescribed opioid from licit regulated suppliers. Prescriptions and sale of opioids via the regulatory process is maintained by the distributors of the regulated opioids and by the manufacturers who by their production volumes determine the nature of supply. A willingness to distribute licit opioids to regulated outlets in volumes which clearly outstrip the population of the catchment areas which the regulated point of sales serve can then potently indicate the drive for profit maximisation has then breached the regulatory structure.
The structure of prescriptions for CPDs are then illustrative of not only the prescribing habits of the USA but also of the nature of the abuse of CPD opioids and the failure of regulation of this licit drug market. In the 2017 NDTA there are 4 opioids (hydrocodone, oxycodone, tramadol and codeine) in the prescriptions issued for the top 10 CPDs with hydrocodone and oxycodone being the number 1 and number 2 drug prescribed respectively. In the 2017 NDTA figure 24: “Top 10 Controlled Prescription Drugs (CPDs) Written in Millions of Prescriptions, 2011- 2016” presents the sum of prescriptions written for the 4 opioids by year and for the period. By year for the period 2011 to 2016 is as follows: 2011-269.3 million, 2012-271.5 million, 2013-263.8 million, 2014-255 million, 2015-236.9 million and 2016-223.8 million. The total prescriptions for opioids within the top 10 CPDs for the period were: 1,520.3 million. By prescriptions for the 4 opioids of the top 10 CPDs prescribed for the period is as follows: Hydrocodone-746.1 million, Oxycodone-360.3 million, Tramadol-257.2 million and Codeine-156.7 million. The basis of demand in the USA for CPD opioids is a predilection to immerse the population of the USA with prescriptions for controlled opioids particularly hydrocodone and oxycodone. Which is illustrated by the number of dosages of controlled opioids sold on the licit retail market seen in figure 25 of the 2017 NDTA: “Top 10 Controlled Prescription Drugs (CPDs) Dispensed in Billions of Dosage Units, 2011-2016”. By year the dosage units of controlled opioids dispensed were as follows: 2011-19.7 billion, 2012-19.8 billion, 2013-19.2 billion, 2014-18.4 billion, 2015-18.3 billion and 2016-16.3 billion. The total number of dispensed units of controlled opioids for the period 2011 to 2016 was 110.7 billion dosage units. By controlled opioid the dispensed units for the period were as follows: Hydrocodone-47.8 billion dosage units, Oxycodone-26.4 billion, Tramadol-19.6 billion and Codeine-16.9 billion. Of the controlled opioids within the top 10 dispensed CPDs hydrocodone accounted for 43.17%, oxycodone-23.84%, tramadol-17.70% and codeine-15.26%. The decline in the number of dispensed controlled opioid dosages that commenced in 2014, continued in 2015 and heightened in 2016 is cited as a noteworthy development in the response to the opioid epidemic. But the volume of dosages of controlled opioids that were dispensed in spite of the reduction continues to drive demand and as a consequence addiction, overdoses and death is the result.
Prolific prescribing of controlled opioids then drives the dispensing of billions of dosage units of controlled opioids per annum which is the supply that relentlessly begets demand which is accommodated by the prescription pill mill, by acquisitions from licit holders of a supply of controlled opioids, by illicit acquisitions from the licit supply structure and by turning to illicit drug markets for supply of controlled opioids and/or illicit opioids as heroin. A single licit holder in a single family household can set in train the dynamic of use, abuse and addiction by persons who are not bona fide holders of prescriptions for controlled opioids. This is the product of the volume of prescriptions issued and the volume of dosage units of controlled opioids dispensed as a result per the population of the USA. The tsunami of supply has resulted in controlled opioids being the most available opioid on the market thereby limiting the level of demand for illicit opioids. For the level of demand for illicit opioids is directly linked to the dynamics of the controlled opioid drug market as the illicit opioid market has no dynamic unique to it as it is forced to respond to supply issues that arise in the controlled opioid market. The licit drug market has captured the illicit drug market seen in the fact that the retail price of diverted controlled opioids on the illicit market commands a premium on the streets that drives demand to heroin. Demand for controlled opioids outstrips that of heroin and those unable to tap into a supply line from the licit structure has to pay a premium on the streets. This is the product of the prescription and dispensing mills for controlled opioids in the USA. The regulatory framework for controlled opioids has been breached facilitating profit maximisation to the detriment of personal safety and well-being.
One instance of the power relations of a licit drug market that impacts the regulatory agency of the Federal government of the USA and its designated task under law was highlighted by a joint Washington Post and CBS “60 Minutes” investigation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The investigation revealed that lobbyists hired by the US drug industry effectively lobbied Congress to have legislation passed in both the House and Senate that effectively reduces the ability of the DEA to prosecute particularly the distributors of controlled opioids for supplying these controlled substances to those empowered to write prescriptions for and dispense these opioids considered by the DEA to be sales to “shady” operations in other words pain pill mills and dispensaries. What is noteworthy in this affair is that the DEA and the Justice Department under the Obama administration did not object to the legislation to the Congress and reportedly neither to then President Obama who signed it into law. The licit drug business of the USA has then illustrated its power to coerce the DEA and the Justice Department of the federal government. In its quest to supply controlled opioids in an already oversupplied market without due consideration to the end use of the controlled substances they sold and the impact on human lives they then emasculated the already compliant DEA. Another potent lesson of the discourse of neo liberalism and its fetish of Homo Economicus in action. This is the behaviour in a licit drug market that is no different from that of the illicit drug market with one salient grave difference: the power wielded by the players of the licit drug market over the political institutions of the state. This is the disadvantage of the players of an illicit drug market when faced with competition from a licit drug market as in the opioid market of the USA.
The DEA approved the manufacturing output of controlled opioids as is their power under law that set the whole train in motion in the licit opioid drug market. The DEA then approved the manufacturing output that drove the marketing drive (supply begets demand) to have billions of dosage units of controlled opioids dispensed which means sale of the units manufactured under approval of the DEA. This tsunami of production/supply conjured up demand that evolved into the opioid epidemic which means greater demand and maximisation of profit. End use has nothing to do with this. Faced with the political blow back from the monster created the supply side players have indicated their power to subjugate the DEA further to ensure that the industry fully exploits the demand horizon generated by the opioid epidemic. In this quest the DEA, the Department of Justice and the elected politicians complied willingly and faithfully.
The political discourse of citing the illicit drug trade for the opioid epidemic is but another attempt to ensure that the licit drug market is made sustainable and remains dominant and hegemonic. Mexico and China are the villains of the piece and the DEA responds to the political discourse by showing what it’s doing to crack down on the illicit drug trade whilst the law that has emasculated its regulatory power over the licit opioid drug trade is still on the books in your face! The new buzzword is illicit fentanyl manufactured by the Chinese and the Mexicans sold on the streets of the USA not the hydrocodone and oxycodone manufactured in the USA and dispensed in billions of dosage units.
There are lessons to be learned on the nature of the war on drugs prosecuted by the USA and the nexus between the licit opioid drug trade and the state in the USA. The licit drug trade is relentlessly obsessed with maximising profit through maintaining the level of supply that begets the level of demand necessary to maximisation of profits. To accomplish this state regulation has to be complicit and servile whilst the illicit market must not be able to offer the same controlled opioids for sale at competitive prices. The manufacturers, distributors, dispensers and prescribers have then formed a supply cartel which determines the price of their products on the illicit market creating a price point where alternatives are sought for their affordability. The state has then to police the illicit market to ensure the sustainability of the hegemony of the cartel that runs the licit opioid market and the hegemony of the licit over the illicit market. Whenever the rules governing the use of drugs change enabling the creation of a licit market for a previously illicit drug the players of the licit market will inevitably move to dominate the illicit market and strive to create the supply side cartel of the licit market that dominates the licit market. And in this quest the intervention of the state is strategically necessary thereby setting in train the means to purchase political influence. This is the process that is being held up by the discursive agents of the war on drugs who continue to strive to dismantle this evolutionary process in the marijuana market of the USA. Specific states of the union have started the process whilst others have refused but most importantly the potent restrictions for the creation of the licit markets reside at the federal level. At present what exists is a stalemate which is hindering the evolution of the licit marihuana market but cannot destroy the changes made. But already in states involved in the process of creating the licit market the dynamic and the power relations of a licit market moving to dominate an illicit market with the other attendant realities are apparent.
The war on drugs in the USA shows the propensity to create licit drug markets that embody the basic operational strategies of illicit markets and much more importantly the players of the licit market exercise and exhibit the power to ensure the compliance and support of the state utilising the political mechanisms of the state. This power is exercised to the benefit of the players regardless of the reality of the pharmacology of the opioids they sell in relation to human consumption. A comparison with the opioid use reality of Europe on this note is instructive. The Europe Drug Report 2017 states: “Comparison with developments in North America is also relevant to an analysis of Europe’s opioid drug problem. A review of the data in this report suggests that, while the overall EU situation remains different, some parallels do exist. One difference between the two regions, is that in Europe, very few clients presenting for specialised drug treatment do so for addiction to opioid pain medicines. This probably reflects the different regulatory frameworks and approaches to marketing and prescribing that exist between Europe and the North America.”
It’s fitting to end with a quotation from the executive summary of the 2017 NDTA of the DEA as follows: “Drug poisoning deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States; they are currently at their highest ever recorded level and, every year since 2011, have outnumbered deaths by firearms, motor vehicle crashes, suicide and homicide. In 2015, approximately 140 people died every day from drug poisoning.” The licit opioid drug market is the largest single contributor to this human carnage on a daily basis in the USA. The victims of drug abuse and addiction are the collateral damage of the “War on Drugs”. The high cost of addiction levied on opioid abusers, their families and the social order must be factored into this discussion. For the daily life of addiction and its impact on the abuser, his/her children and family and the social order assaults the sanctity of human life and the need for human existence that is emancipated from the drive to satisfy the cravings of a chemically altered brain. A condition in which nothing is sacred your body, your life, your safety, your children and your family in your quest for the fix. A grave sentence to a netherworld where the collateral damage of the war on drugs is consigned to in the USA.
Gun Violence in St Lucia 2017: The Ravages of the Eastern Caribbean Trafficking Pipeline (ECCTP)
In 2012 the murder rate of St Lucia was 21.6 with 39 murders. In 2014 there were 29 murders with a rate of 16.43 whilst in 2015 there were 28 murders for a rate of 15.80. Murders declined from 2011 to 2015 with the lowest number of murders in 2015 since 2007. In 2016 the rate rose to 17.41 and as at November 1, 2017 the rate was 26.90 making 2017 a bumper year for homicides breaking the trend of rapid decline from 2011 to 2015.
The reality is that the equilibrium attained on the supply side of the St Lucia drug market in the period 2011 to 2015 began unravelling in 2016 creating a supply side war in 2017. The supply side of the St Lucia drug market comprises product transitioned through St Lucia for export to the EU and the US, product transitioned through St Lucia for smuggling to Martinique and Guadeloupe and product for local consumption. The grave changes in supply have impacted the ganja markets and the pipeline from St Lucia to Martinique and Guadeloupe. With the creation and evolution of the ECTP a direct flow of product has been established to Martinique and Guadeloupe thereby bypassing St Lucia this comprises cocaine, ganja especially premium ganja, meth and ex. This has impacted and changed the power relations of the St Lucia to Martinique/Guadeloupe pipeline thereby displacing those who are not connected to a secure source of supply. Those operating the direct pipeline to Martinique/Guadeloupe are also exerting their power over the drug markets of these overseas French territories thereby by illustrating their hegemony. This has displaced operators with the blowback felt in St Lucia. The emphasis is now on premium ganja to Martinique/Guadeloupe and the EU this has reduced the volume of low grade ganja on the local market in St Lucia which has fed the ganja wars which are common throughout the Caribbean island chain today. There is a drive to fill the ganja supply void via imports from other sources and local production but the displacement in the supply and trafficking sides of the market will continue to drive the wars and the body count in the future. Without a steady and reliable source of supply your illicit business collapses and you resort to violence to remedy the shortfall. Such is the life.
Multiple supply side market displacements and restructuring is impacting St Lucia resulting in the rise in the number of murders and gun violence in 2017 to which must be added the response of law enforcement in Martinique and Guadeloupe to violent crimes perpetrated by St Lucians in both territories. St Lucians in both territories run the risk of now being policed selectively given the designation of being criminogenic. This will also impact the course and intensity of the wars in St Lucia as those in the life flee Martinique and Guadeloupe for St Lucia and seek to replicate their illicit enterprises in St Lucia.
The reality of gun violence and murder in St Lucia in 2017 is another expression of the impact of the ECTP on the Eastern Caribbean island chain as the social order evolves under the pressure of the dynamic unleashed by organised crime in the Caribbean island chain. Pax Mexicana!
As at November 9, 2017 the homicide count was 50.
In 2016 St Vincent and the Grenadines (StV&G) recorded 40 murders for a murder rate of 36.482 which paints a picture in which gun violence is present and illustrated not only by the number of murders as a result of gun violence but also the number of shootings which did not result in death. The month of September 2017 was a particularly bloody month which spilled over into October 2017 but at a reduced pace. There were 9 murders in September with four persons surviving being shot with 7 persons killed in the final nine days of September. An analysis of the nine murders and shootings reveal the prosecution of a war on the ground for hegemony over the illicit economy of StV&G in which innocent bystanders are viewed as collateral damage. What is noteworthy is the willingness to shoot to death women gangland execution style and in the pursuit of their target to shoot women in the company of their target. One development in September 2017 that must be noted is the murder of a young female by a group of females in a home invasion of the victim’s family home murdering her in full view of her family. This is another murder that reeks of gangland modus operandi/styling and it’s a development that must be closely monitored in StV&G as it involved young females. What is noteworthy amongst the gangland shootings is the taking out of persons who were known break and enter and robbery artistes including those who recently exited the prison system. Usually this points to the possibility of taking what is not yours as a quantity of drugs, guns and cash etc. and the tit for tat killings roll out in gangland which provides the excuse for a power grab. In October 2017 the gunfire from 4 masked gunmen on the patrons of the Road Side Bar at Diamond resulted in 8 shot with one subsequent death as a result and 40 spent shells were recovered from the scene. From reports of the shootings and murder events the gunmen/shooters are all masked, they arrive on the scene in motor vehicles without number plates or they simply walk up to their targets do the job and walk away. The Diamond shootings were then a message sent to those who controlled the Diamond turf that it was now contested turf. The number of murders as at October 2017 at the time of writing was 33.
Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonsalves in response to the Diamond shootings stated that there are 5 “associational groupings with criminal activity” in StV&G. The Prime Minister listed the operational bases of the associational groupings as follows: the electoral constituency of East St George, three in the Kingstown conurbation including the areas of Ottley Hall, Edinboro and Sharpes and in the South Leeward constituency. The Prime Minister stated that these 5 groups are in competition with each other in various spheres of activity and in the course of this battle for dominance these groups will contract foreign personnel to prosecute the war against their competitors. Prime Minister Gonsalves is then blaming the 5 organised crime groups of StV&G for the gun violence that has targeted those assets marked for elimination and the innocent bystanders who are the collateral damage of this war for hegemony. Prime Minister Gonsalves speaking on the issue of the illicit small arms and ammunition trade into StV&G stated that there are multiple points of origin of illicit arms entering StV&G but those he mentioned were: the USA, Colombia, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago. The Prime Minister’s position therefore raises the question of the volume of the trade and the capacity of the state to interdict the arms flow to the extent to impact the operational capacity of the 5 organised crime groups.
The reality of StV&G has to be placed in the context of the Eastern Caribbean Trafficking Pipeline (ECTP) and the special position of StV&G in this trafficking pipeline. The ECTP was created to move cocaine and heroin up the Eastern Caribbean island chain to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands with an ancillary flow of cocaine into the French overseas departments and British colonies. Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname are the jump off transition zones of the pipeline with sea vessels being the dominant means of trafficking. All islands within the pipeline are then faced with an immediate and palpable increase in the volume of illicit drugs moved through their territory and more importantly exported from their territory to the EU, Canada and the USA.
St V&G is unique in the operational structure of this pipeline as it’s a premier production and export point for ganja both within the Caribbean and to the drug markets of the eastern seaboard of the US. Organic, high potency ganja presently fetches a wholesale price in these cities especially in New York which has created high grade organic ganja into a commodity worthy of fighting and dying over. Organic, high potency ganja grown in tropical, volcanic soil is then an apex/premier product of the pipeline attracting the level of investment by organised crime groups into production and trafficking that demands the hegemony of organised crime over the industry much more transnational globalised organised crime who are in fact the premier investors. These are the Caribbean affiliates of the Mexican Transnational Trafficking Organisations (MTTOs) who in joint action created and manage the ECTP.
The producers and traffickers of StV&G who are now affiliates of transnational organised crime groups that control the ECTP are traffickers of all the illicit products and participants of all the illicit enterprises of the pipeline. Such as trafficking cocaine, small arms, fuel and human smuggling in addition to ganja. Inclusion into the pipeline explodes the wealth generation capacity of the StV&G groups and impacts the terrain of the underworld in StV&G. The major issue is hegemony as the affiliates of transnational crime that control the pipeline must now exert hegemony over the underworld, gangland and The Game. Gangland affiliates are used to protect the interests of the pipeline on the ground and they share in the bounty of the pipeline turning them into transnational traffickers. This change impacts gangland as it creates glaring imbalances of wealth and power on the ground and those left out of the bounty react with a vengeful violence seen in the graphic violence used on targets especially with instruments other than guns. It also feeds a frenzy within the lower levels of gangland especially amongst the “baby bandits” that is expressed on the public especially the aged. The operational rules of the pipeline result in the exclusion of non-members of the pipeline from access to the products of the pipeline. Retail markets not under the control of the pipeline are then starved of product and the war for supply commences which only ends when the pipeline supplies product or an alternate supply is found. This is clearly seen in the retail ganja markets of the Caribbean as product shortages on the supply side have fed ganja wars for supply and the move to grow product locally to supply local demand. As ganja producers stress on quality for export rather than lower quality with its lower prices for local consumption the low end market is now in the grip of a supply side deficit which breeds wars of supply on the ground. The war on the ground impacts the murder rate it does not drive it. To prosecute a war on the round requires sustainable resources which demands a sustainable supply of illicit products to maintain the earning power of the organised crime groups at war. The prime weapon is then to contract or end the supply side of the group you are at war with. With this accomplished the enemy simply shrinks, shrivels up and surrenders. The MTTOs are adept at squeezing supply and this is bolstered by giving up their targets to state law enforcement agencies.
The discourse of the new and alternate social order spawned by the illicit trades is illustrated in the spaces liberated from the hegemony of the state where all conflict is mediated through violence and the rule of the violent not law is the primary driver of the murder rate in trafficking transition zones as the Caribbean island chain. This challenge to the hegemony of the state and its hegemonic discourse is what is being expressed in StV&G today. The geographic areas of operation of the 5 organised crime groups of StV&G named by the Prime Minister are the prime contested spaces. Whilst the violence flows the changes to the nature of the social order are being affected which then expands the expanse of violence as a daily instrument of human survival and interaction. Eventually the change generates a sustainable momentum of its own in the absence of state intervention at the strategic juncture.
StV&G is in the grips of an evolutionary phase of its underworld and gangland never experienced before brought about by the impact of the ECTP on StV&G. Its underworld and gangland is in the grips of the great leap forward which will drastically change the nature and structure of the social order of StV&G. The issue is not only to identify the 5 organised crime groups but to place them in the dynamics of the ECTP and the consequent impact on the social order of StV&G and the rest of the Caribbean island chain.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Reuters News agency have reported on the manner in which the foreign males, foreign females and their children of the Islamic State who have surrendered to Iraqi forces in Iraq are being handled. The men and boys 12 years old and over are separated from the women and children and there are reports some are executed whilst others detained but there is no trail of evidence to confirm both streams of reports.
An HRW report of July 13, 2017 stated that a special closed camp was established at Bartalla, Iraq to house IS families for “rehabilitation” before reinsertion into society. In this report there was no mention of the women and children of the Islamic State considered foreign in Iraq. At the Bartalla camp the modus operandi was clear as families devoid of men and boys from Mosul and Tal Afar were housed there with those classified as IS families being sent there.
An HRW report dated September 20, 2017 reported on a camp at Hammam al- Alil, Iraq housing over 1,400 foreign women and children of IS who were all subsequently moved on September 17, 2017 to a detention camp at Tal Kayf under the total control of Iraqi military intelligence as there is no presence of a humanitarian organisation at Tal Kayf. The foreign women and children are then at the mercy of Iraqi intelligence as there is no international oversight. HRW on its visit to then Hammam al-Alil camp holding the over 1,400 foreign women and children interviewed on September 10 and 11, 2017 27 women held at the camp. The family groups interviewed contained no men and boys over 12 years old. At the time of the HRW visit the camp was under the management of the Norwegian Refugee Council but on September 12, 2017 the Norwegian Refugee Council stated that it will no longer manage the camp as it’s not a humanitarian facility. The HRW report listed the nationalities of the women at the camp as follows: Afghan, Azerbaijani, Chinese, Chechen, Iranian, Russian, Syrian, Tajik, Trinidadian and Turkish. A Reuters report on the camp also listed: Algerian, French and German nationals. Both the HRW and Reuters report does not provide a listing of the number of women and children as per nationalities listed and HRW only spoke to a sample of 27 women. The report in the Trinidad Guardian of October 12, 2017 “Trinis who fled Isis now in Iraqi detention camps” which reported on the information provided by HRW on the Trinidadian woman interviewed who indicated that she and her sister who is pregnant were in the camp with their children and their mother. Their father was separated from them and carried to parts unknown. This single interview does not and cannot speak to the total number of women, children and men of Trinidad and Tobago of the Islamic State who have surrendered to the Iraqi forces are in detention camps across Iraq or dead. The women interviewed by HRW revealed the number of the sample who didn’t have in their possession the travel document of their country of origin. Then there is the problem of children born in Iraq under the rule of Islamic State seen in the number of three year olds and younger in the camp. What is most indicative is the refusal of the Trinbagonian woman interviewed by HRW to divulge her identity as name, former area of residence in Trinidad, family name in Trinidad and any information on her travel document from T&T. This position worsens the plight of the woman in Iraq as it fails to grapple with the threat posed to those branded with the mark of IS held captive by the Iraqi power structure especially potent being the grave threat posed by those driven by the blood lust generated by revenge and vendetta. The strategy has then to be to give all information necessary to international sources and the Iraqi state and call for repatriation back to T&T. To refuse to do this will result in a steady stream of orphans left at the mercy of the powers that be.
In August 2017 the Russian network RT ran a story on the number of Russian speaking orphans in an orphanage in Baghdad. Subsequently the call went out for members of the family of these orphans to come forward to commence the process of reuniting them with their families. Are there orphans of Trinidad and Tobago origin in need of deliverance and reunification with their families in T&T in Iraq? On September 11, 2017 the RT news agency aired a video report on the foreign women and children held in the said camp in Iraq. The report sought out Russian speaking women only willing to speak on camera with their facial features erased. The women interviewed made the call for them to return home but the reporter also spoke of the intention to place these women on trial in either Iraq or their country of origin. The reporter also spoke of the number of orphans in Iraq who were the children of foreign fighters and their wives.
From what is reported in the HRW and Reuters reports it’s now apparent that Islamic State foreign fighters from T&T were in Iraq and involved in the futile attempt to hold Mosul for IS. Is the same scenario being repeated in Raqqa with a similar outcome of T&T female nationals and their children of IS now in detention? The salient reality now is what is the position of the government of T&T and the Ummah of T&T on these women and children in Iraq? The much vaunted “allies” of T&T in the war on terrorism have indicated their ambivalence at best towards the return of foreign fighters of IS to their country of origin but what of the women and children? Will these women and children become stateless consigned to a netherworld situated in Iraq thereby becoming offloaded on the Iraqi government and open to the acts of revenge and vendetta that have been spawned by the barbaric actions of the Islamic State? Are the women to be tried in Iraq and face punishment in Iraq when found guilty? What then of the children left behind? What will be done about orphans born in the Islamic State to a foreign parent or parents?
One report in the Middle East Eye has indicated that the T&T government has in the past facilitated the return to T&T of women of T&T and their children who embraced then fled from the Islamic State. Also note carefully the estimate given for Islamic State foreign fighters from Trinidad and Tobago which frames the scale of the problem. The aid given to Amina and her sons by the T&T government will this enable the T&T government to locate these women and children in Iraq and Syria, consider their request to return to T&T if they are made, approve or deny and facilitate as they reportedly did before? Or use the escape route of these women and children being stateless?
To the Ummah of T&T especially those who encouraged, aided and abetted the Hijrah what do you intend to do in response to this reality? Remember the Quranic injunction on treatment afforded to orphans and note it’s one instrument of our judgement! For the power of the Islamic State discourse of Hijrah to the Khilafah moved entire families of Muslims in T&T to undertake Hijrah to a failed project from its outset and now it’s the burden of the Ummah of T&T to deal with the blowback such is our destiny and our duty.
Guyana: Illicit Airstrips and Illicit Air Flights
In September 2016 an aircraft was found abandoned near to the village of Yupukari in Region Nine, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo, Guyana. The aircraft was under man-made cover in an attempt to hide it and was reported to have been disabled rendering it unable to fly which indicates organisation and strategy. The aircraft was subsequently linked to the illicit drug trade and of Colombian origin. In August 2017 an aircraft was abandoned at an illicit airstrip five miles west of Santa Fe in the Upper Rupununi, Region Nine, Guyana. The aircraft was abandoned on an illicit airstrip discovered two weeks previously by the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) but no illicit goods were reported seized from the aircraft.
Both cases of abandoned aircraft and the illicit airstrips in Region Nine indicate that there is organised crime in the region involved in this illicit airlift as the airstrips are constructed and maintained and the flights into and from Region Nine involve the operation of ground handlers. The operation in Region Nine is not in keeping with the model of illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean basin to terminal points as in Central America. There is then a specific dynamic that involves Region Nine, Guyana that enmeshes it into a regional pipeline that embraces Roraima state, Brazil and Guyana as a trafficking transition zone to the Eastern Caribbean Trafficking Pipeline (ECTP), Suriname and French Guiana and an export point into a counter flow of the said pipeline. Cocaine entering Roraima state is fed into the Amazon pipeline via the Rio Negro with Guyana now configured as a delivery point for airlifted cocaine in Region Nine which is then trafficked into Roraima state from Guyana then into the Rio Negro pipeline. Region Nine, Guyana borders Roraima state, Brazil with the major border crossing at Lethem, Guyana. Cocaine landed in Region Nine is then moved to the ECTP and to Suriname and French Guiana for the jump to Europe. Region Nine is not the only or the most important trafficking point for the entry of cocaine to Guyana it’s simply part of a complex and strategic flow of product for the trafficking organisations.
With the apparent drop, depart and return methodology utilised on the Region Nine run the flights can accommodate product moved from Guyana after the cargo for Guyana is dropped off and this is ideal for gold, diamonds and other valuable minerals to enter the pipeline leaving Guyana illicitly. The Guyana-Roraima state, Brazil pipeline has also enabled the growth and production of ganja for export in Guyana to the Roraima pipeline. Which has facilitated the emergence of Guyana as an exporter of ganja within the region and the involvement of Guyanese in the trafficking of ganja in the region and external of it. The drop, depart and return methodology enables the movement of coca paste into Guyana where it will be processed into cocaine hydrochloride then exported which is stage three of the evolutionary development of trafficking under the hegemony of the Mexican Transnational Trafficking Organisations (MTTOs) as exhibited in areas where the MTTOs operate as Central and South America and Europe. The drop, depart and return methodology has developed for Guyana primarily because of the inability of the Guyanese state to control access to its air space as it lacks the assets and the military infrastructure on the ground to do so. Geography and the chronic weakness of the Guyanese state are being exploited to the benefit of the MTTOs. Geography and a weak state have now conspired to create a specific trafficking dynamic with its pipelines.
These developments and its impact on the social order are ongoing in Guyana as the Guyanese state cannot defend its territory and integrity from the assault of the MTTOs. Faced with the illicit flights into Guyana the government of the day has admitted publicly that there is little it can do to stop said flights. Guyana and Suriname are the reflections of Hispaniola on the north coast of South America where they are both being exploited by the traffickers to expand the drug market of Brazil and to realise Brazil as the premier drug export point to Europe and Africa from South America. And to turn French Guiana into an export point to France and the EU. Guyana and Brazil have been joined at the hips by the strategy of the MTTOs. Pax Mexicana!
September 30, 2017
The nexus between the state of Roraima, Brazil and Guyana was potently illustrated with what has been placed in the public domain following the murder of the owner of some 19 gold dredges with some 120 Brazilians in his employ operating in Cuyuni, Region 7, Guyana. The murdered Brazilian gold miner Antonio Da Silva has been identified as Siviomar Antonio de Oliviera a fugitive from Brazilian justice. De Oliviera was incarcerated in 2004 for killing his wife, in 2008 he was implicated in the murder of inmates of the Monte Cristo Agricultural Penitentiary where he was incarcerated. In 2011 de Oliviera escaped from the penitentiary and remained a fugitive from justice in the Brazilian state of Roraima. The murder of Da Silva/de Oliviera this week opened the can of worms.
To have killed whilst in prison repeatedly meant that de Oliveira was a member of a prison gang of the Monte Cristo penitentiary which illuminates his ability to escape from the prison, escape the police of Roraima and flee to Guyana. What must now be explained is how a prison gang member on the lam a fugitive ends up with the mining concessions to run 19 dredges with some 120 Brazilians in his employ in Guyana? To purposefully display his face in public as a known wealthy Brazilian gold miner and trader in Guyana yet remain off the radar screen of the police of Roraima state, Brazil? To have some 120 Brazilians in his employ and retain his impunity in Guyana free from the clutches of Brazilian police? Was Da Silva a man of straw the front man in an operation under the control of the overlords of the prison gang he ran with in Monte Cristo? If so clearly the time was ripe for a change in management personnel carried out in keeping with the tradition of the game. At least he kept his head on!
The article titled “ACP transferred: refuses to arrest PC on terror offences” in the Sunday Express of September 10, 2017 must first be questioned on its accuracy. If it’s in fact an accurate report on what transpired, then grave questions arise of the capacity and capability of the premier civilian covert agency to, in a non-politicised manner, deal with threats to national security. If it’s not accurate then there is an agenda of destabilisation in play which the national security apparatus has to defuse. The article alludes to holes in the security apparatus charged with monitoring persons of interest which if they exist sends a potent message to the “partners” of T&T in the fight against terrorism especially those of the north Atlantic that all talk and no action makes jack a liability even a grave risk.
The said individual who was supposedly branded an Islamic State foot soldier supposedly left Trinidad with his wife and children for Egypt and returned to Trinidad from Egypt reportedly without the knowledge of the agency monitoring him. The said individual who identifies himself in the article as a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) then attached to the Parliamentary Unit stated in the article that he was investigated in London and cleared of any terrorist activities. Which supports the article’s statement that he and his family were placed on the terrorist watch list by the T&T security apparatus but he and his family were allowed to fly. The member of the TTPS in the article stated that he and his family are members of the Hebrew Israelite denomination and travelled to Egypt for reasons of faith.
Was this member of the TTPC surveilled to determine his allegiance to Islamic State? How was he and his family to enter territory under the control of IS from Egypt? Most pressing of all is he and his family in fact Hebrew Israelites? Because his designation as a potential IS recruit seeking to undertake Hijrah to Islamic State is simply not adding up as it’s contrary to the methodology of IS. Was he and his family adherents to Salafi Jihadi discourse and methodology whilst in T&T? Who was his Salafi Jihadi Sheik in T&T? Did he and his family personally exhibit and espouse instances of the Salafi Jihadi belief system? What is the history of the family as practising Muslims in T&T is the crucial question for Islamic State is not in the business of converting the kaffirun to Islam before or after they are granted entry to the IS. In light of the shrinkage of the IS and the difficulty in entering territory it holds in Syria in August 2017 why fly your entire family to Egypt? To take this risk illustrates that you are committed to the discourse of IS which means that you must have left a trail of this commitment in T&T. But why fly to Egypt with your wife and children then return to T&T if you are so committed to Islamic State? Or is it that you are in no way linked to Islamic State. It’s that simple.
The person of interest stated in the Express article that he and his family are Hebrew Israelites which in no way gives them credibility to enter Islamic State what it gives them is a free pass to lose their heads as Christian spies. In no way can informed and educated surveillance mistake the belief system of the Hebrew Israelites for that of the Islamic State. If this is an instance of the quality of surveillance, then we have a grave problem. The only other outlandish scenario to visualise is an Islamic State sleeper parading as a Hebrew Israelite. But such sleepers are intent on carrying out attacks and most importantly are chosen by the command of Islamic State and the profile of the person of interest in the article simply doesn’t fit the favoured profile of the IS sleeper attacker. Then if you are an IS sleeper why travel to IS with your family after having failed to execute the order given? You have a death wish to die painfully and graphically at the hands of IS. A person intent on an attack in the name of IS but not under the orders of IS, the lone wolf, will not pack up and travel family included. To assess the threat posed by this person of interest is not rocket science but the daily task requirement for the covert intelligence agencies of the T&T national security apparatus. In the threat horizon of T&T there is can be no space afforded screw ups.
If this is the quality of work in a threat horizon as is that of T&T then we’re in for a rough ride as memories of the road to July 27, 1990 and 9/11 flash back. Both roads paved with political impotence that empowered the assaults launched. This position is the result of only factoring into the analysis the words of the person of interest in the Express article all the rest of the article is simply noise interference. The silence is also noise.