Monthly Archives: October 2017

St Vincent and the Grenadines, Gun Crimes, Murder and the Eastern Caribbean Trafficking Pipeline (ECTP)

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.

https://www.iwnsvg.com/2017/09/28/counting-the-dead-and-injured-in-svgs-bloody-september/

https://www.iwnsvg.com/2017/10/02/octobers-beginning-mirrors-septembers-bloody-end-in-svg/

https://www.iwnsvg.com/2017/10/17/residents-recount-horror-of-diamond-mass-shooting/

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.

https://www.iwnsvg.com/2017/10/17/gonsalves-faulted-mitchell-for-svgs-cocaine-problem-so-whos-to-blame-for-the-guns/

https://www.iwnsvg.com/2017/10/17/pm-identifies-5-associational-groupings-of-criminal-in-svg-2/

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.

http://www.daurius.com/illicit-trades

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.

St V&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 St V&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 St V&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 St V&G and the rest of the Caribbean island chain.

January 3, 2018 The murder count for 2017 reported is 41. The impact of the drug markets of Martinique especially and Guadeloupe are impacting the drug market of St Vincent through the importation of hashish especially Moroccan hashish from France. Hashish on the drug market of Martinique especially is now flowing into Caribbean ganja markets which has spawned a feeding frenzy with the result being violence in an attempt to secure a supply of hashish. This is a new variant of the Caribbean ganja wars. In Martinique hashish is exchanged for cocaine where you purchase hashish with kilo bricks such is the extent of the depth of demand. Those in possession of hashish in St Vincent are now targets for attacks as the value of Moroccan hashish makes it a product worth dying for.

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The Women and Children of Trinidad and Tobago from the Islamic State are they Prisoners of War, Enemy Combatants or Stateless Detainees under Collective Punishment

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.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/07/13/iraq-alleged-isis-families-sent-rehabilitation-camp

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.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/09/20/iraq/krg-1400-women-children-isis-areas-detained

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-families-exclusiv/exclusive-iraq-holding-1400-foreign-wives-children-of-suspected-islamic-state-fighters-idUSKCN1BL0SF?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

http://guardian.co.tt/news/2017-10-11/trinis-who-fled-isis-now-iraqi-detention-camps

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.

https://www.rt.com/news/398910-russia-return-children-mosul-isis/

https://www.rt.com/news/402847-isis-wives-iraq-camp-un/

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.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/paralysed-cleric-hassan-anyabwile-london-using-social-media-help-families-flee-islamic-state-caribbean-syria-194518800