Trinidad and Tobago: the Illicit Drug Trade, Gangland and the Cleansing 2013-2019

The Cleansing of the Old Order of Illicit Trafficking in T&T 2013-2019

In the fourth quarter 2013 the process of cleansing the gate-keepers and middle managers of the old order of illicit trafficking in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) commenced. This cleansing commenced in the South-Western peninsula of Trinidad, moved to the lower Western coast of the Gulf of Paria, then to the East coast of Trinidad. During this period of cleansing the impact of the cleansing boosted the murder toll especially in the ganja trade as voids created when actors fell by the wayside became objects to die for in a bid to fill these voids. But the salient issue with this cleansing was supply as a new order of supply was discernible on the ground and filling the void did not guarantee supply. There were new rules governing supply which were creating the haves and the have nots, characterized by a huge disparity in the ability to earn, to generate and amass wealth and to display the firepower that is acquired with wealth. This was now the era of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in T&T.

In 2018 the cleansing shifted gears, moving higher up the food chain as a key middle manager and his organization with ties to gangland as their source of supply were removed leaving a void in supply located in Central Trinidad with extensive contacts in the South and in the East-West corridor. In 2019 the same was repeated where another middle manager with extensive ties to gangland as a source of supply was removed leaving Northern Trinidad void. There is no short fall in supply, in fact supply of a menu of products has increased in volume, the issue today is access to this tsunami of supply as access is restricted.

This cleansing has accelerated up the food chain simultaneously with the flood of illicit drugs imported into T&T for export to the Caribbean island chain, Britain, the EU, Canada and the US. All signs point to the creation of an illicit trafficking infrastructure to switch T&T on as a major trafficking point of the Caribbean island chain. The last attempt made to do this was in the decade of the 1990’s by T&T traffickers which failed. Today this assault is being mounted by Mexican Transnational Trafficking Organisations (MTTOs). This cleansing is ongoing simultaneously with the explosion of production of ganja in Colombia for export to the Caribbean through Venezuela. Venezuela today is inundated with a tsunami of Colombian ganja especially Colombian Kush which is the premier export product to the Caribbean. For the first time in its illicit drug history Venezuela is now evolving into a major consumer of ganja whilst being the premier export point to the Caribbean island chain. Utilizing the constant, persistent, velocity drip method of trafficking ganja is moved from the Western states of Venezuela to states of Eastern Venezuela from Nueva Esparta eastwards for trafficking to the Caribbean island chain where demand outstrips supply. In T&T one ounce of Colombian Kush retail sells for between TT$500-600. The cleansing is taking place simultaneously with a squeeze on the supply side of the illicit drug trade as the MTTOs’ business model is antagonistic to the old Colombian model created by the Valle Norte federation which is now history. The old Colombian model sold kilo bricks to buyers who were responsible for trafficking what they purchased from the supplier. Caribbean citizens resident in the Caribbean islands in the decade of the 1990s were now allowed to get into the Game as traffickers by purchasing the services of brokers who supplied the cocaine and transported the loads to Europe and the USA for an agreed upon price per load. These Caribbean traffickers became filthy rich within one generation and dominate the civil societies of the Caribbean. The MTTOs exerted hegemony over the trade from the late 1990s to early 21st century rolling out their business model on the ground where they sold their product to no one, whilst forming partnerships and affiliations with transnational organised crime where together they control their product from production to retail sales on the streets of the North Atlantic. Fully integrated illicit enterprises with forward and backward linkages.

In T&T, the MTTOs have applied the supply sanctions, reformulated gangland by taking affiliations with factions, cliques and sets creating the haves and the have nots which drives violence. The gate-keepers and the middle managers being removed were all the creation of the Colombian business model, have all been refused affiliated status hence expendable in the order of the MTTOs. Those who depended on supply from those removed are now in dire straits seeking supply, for without supply they cannot earn and when a clique, set or faction cannot earn it embraces mindless violence as the solution. T&T is now today, on the road to the Jamaican reality as the MTTOs unleashed their model first in Jamaica in the Caribbean island chain where the have nots have rolled out predatory violence in a last gasp measure to survive, on the wider populace. The MTTOs will continue moving up the food chain and will soon enter the realm of the apex Caribbean traffickers as in other parts of the Caribbean basin they have purged these traffickers, literally erasing them from the landscape of trafficking in Guatemala and Honduras. The MTTOs use a variety of methods of cleansing including giving up these traffickers to the US federal government. The most potent blow to Caribbean traffickers is the ongoing purge of the structure of brokers utilized by Caribbean traffickers to acquire and traffick cocaine especially to Europe. The MTTOs formed a partnership with the Ndrangheta to unleash a tsunami of cocaine on Europe and in so doing they destroyed the system of brokers thereby clearing the market of the competition. What is noteworthy in this cleansing is the willingness of the Ndrangheta to give up brokers who served their organization, to attain the strategic goals of the federation with the MTTOs. Apex T&T traffickers in 2019 now find themselves in dire straits, starved of supply and faced with the prospect of a US extradition warrant and much worse. In the event of this action unfurled the oligarchs of the social order of T&T will be rocked to its core and the tattered legitimacy of the licit order will be consumed illustrated by the political fallout that will envelop us as a nation threatening to transform us into another banana republic.

A potent indicator of the fall out from the business model of the MTTOs is the present shakeout in the fuel smuggling trade of T&T. With the closure of the local refinery, the fuel smuggling trade now has a supply side problem which is driving a shakeout as the have nots fall by the wayside and are driven by the urgency to secure supply to earn. The squeeze on the supply side for other illicit products has heightened this dislocation which is spurring various acts of graphic violence in a desperate quest to earn. The present scenario will push the have nots to attack the haves in a bid to seize their supply which will intensify the cleansing.

In 2019 the strategy of the MTTOs for Trinidad and Tobago is now clearly apparent on the ground. This strategy is: dominate the supply of ganja to the market whilst increasing the dominance of their affiliates of the retail market, increase the volume of illicit drugs transshipped from T&T towards turning T&T into a major export point of the southern Caribbean. T&T will become a major transit point of the Eastern Caribbean Trafficking Pipeline (ECTP) and a noted contributor to the trans Atlantic flow to Europe and Africa, expand the local market for a range of illicit drugs, fully exploit all other opportunities available in the T&T market as fake/counterfeit goods, smuggled goods, human smuggling, foreign exchange sales and investment, money laundering and exploitation of T&T’s energy resources and products. This strategy intends to increase the earning potential and the maximization of profits of the MTTOs, their partners, affiliates and affiliates of their affiliates. The transformation of the illicit trades presently ongoing in T&T will deepen. thereby changing forever the nature and operational basis of the illicit trades and gangland T&T forever.

4 thoughts on “Trinidad and Tobago: the Illicit Drug Trade, Gangland and the Cleansing 2013-2019

  1. Luke

    Great article! You said T&T is facing the threat of becoming a banana republic because the MTTOs are destroying the current system of brokers. Can you please explain this a little more. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. dauriusfigueira Post author

      The old Colombian business model sold product to buyers rather than keep control of the product from the fields to the streets. Brokers would purchase product, traffick it to Europe for clients in Europe etc. This was the model adopted by the Ndrangheta. The MTTOs control the product from the fields to the streets and don’t sell their product to those outside their network. The Ndrangheta are now partners with the MTTOs and the brokers are being given up and eliminated.Those who depended on brokers are now cut off from supply facing extinction as the dinosaurs. Pax Mexicana!

      Reply
  2. Luke

    Do you think this is as a result of the impending decriminalization of Marijuana and as a result we will see a drastic increase in other ‘product’ more commonly used in Europe and North America?

    Reply
    1. dauriusfigueira Post author

      The push to turn T&T into an export operation of note in the Southern Caribbean is part of a worldwide strategy of the MTTOs to deepen the retail markets of its export hubs. The best example is the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. The strategy calls for a mix of illicit drugs marketed to expand and deepen demand with these markets in the hands of the gangland affiliates of the MTTOs. The leading edge of this strategy is synthetic drugs seen in Ex, Molly, Meth/Ice and Fentanyl which are all common now in the Caribbean and flooding drug markets. Caribbean organic high potency ganja is grown for export to the US eastern seaboard especially New York city and Europe hence ganja decriminalisation means little to the MTTOs. It’s synthetic drugs now especially meth and fentanyl.

      Reply

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