October 2022 Murder Toll Trinidad and Tobago

October 2022 Gun Violence in T&T

There were 63 murders in October 2022 compared to 55 in October 2021, a 14,55% increase over October 2021. October 2022 returned to the level of violence of August 2022 outstripping the level of September 2022. The wars between the Mexican TTOs and the Colombian capos in T&T continue but with marked changes in the engagement on the ground. During August 2022 the murder toll for this month was impacted by the hunt for underlings, associates of associates of the Mexican TTOs which then expanded to their families and friends and persons caught in the wrong place and time when they rode up on them, hunting these targets. October 2022 was then the month of children as collateral damage in this futile bid to break the back of a hegemonic business model. The push back appeared in October 2022 effectively sending the message that the apex of the hierarchy attached to the capos will be extinguished including the capos living in T&T. In December 2021 one such capo on his way back to Venezuela to celebrate 7 days of Feliz navidad riding in the pinero with all the party goods was so disappeared without trace, as such is again on the agenda as everyone gets slack celebrating Feliz navidad. The Mexicans will take you out on the day you Christen your precious male child. This shit ain’t done it now start.

In October 2022 we experienced in T&T the volatile propensity for violence generated by the mix of young teenage males, teenage conflict and the spontaneous use of the gun to resolve conflict in his favour predicated on the use of overwhelming force against an unarmed teenager in conflict with. The insight into the personality of the teenage personality is the method of disposal of the body of the victim. The perpetrator has to be assessed to determine if he has the personality traits of a psychopath, an asocial personality. Gun possession by a teenager spikes the evolution of a predator to the stage of murderer. Next stage the school, church, public places shooters!

Gun Violence in T&T 2017 to 2022

The nature of gun violence in this period has evolved rapidly for two main reasons: the volume of illicit guns available at affordable prices on the illicit market and the ever expanding range of types of weapons available summed up in the rapid rise of the AR-15 assault rifle as the weapon of choice. The illicit gun market of T&T is now unique to the Caribbean island chain far superior to that of Jamaica, matching the availability of weaponry, ammunition, weapon parts, the reloading of ammunition and other material of the US territories of the Caribbean who have the right to bear arms. The T&T illicit gun market today does not indicate characteristics of a market where the right to bear arms does not exist, and this reality speaks to the scope and nature of this grave problem.

There is now in T&T a return to the weapons market of the USA to source supply especially AR-15 assault rifles at much lower prices set by the traditional Colombian gun suppliers. The gun smuggling pipelines from the USA to T&T would source their supply in the states of Florida, Georgia and Texas and will be shipped to our legal ports from these states or from other US states. There is also the pipeline from Puerto Rico, the US Virgin islands and the Dominican Republic.

This is transnational organised crime in operation with the state agency charged with interdicting the entry of all illicit and smuggled goods into T&T, Customs and Excise in its present operational condition being not fit for purpose, incapable of engaging with transnational organised crime by effectively squeezing the flow into the legal ports forcing them to seek out other means to smuggle their weapons into T&T. As is now the ports of T&T are a safe zone for transnational organised crime. The effectiveness of Customs and Excise will be reflected in an unbroken rise in the price for weapons, ammunition etc where demand outstrips supply on the market. The reality today is a perverse opposite where we as a nation pay the cost in blood.

A multi-pronged intervention into Customs and Excise and all legal ports of T&T must be launched immediately to stem the flow of smuggled weapons, induce shortages of supply and escalate the cost of acquisition of illicit weapons. Customs and Excise has to be weaponized to lead from in front: recruitment, training, creation of an oversight authority to ensure the integrity of its employees, a review of its operational procedures, structure and management and of its compensation package in light of it being an organization forever in the sights of transnational organised crime. The interdiction powers under law of Customs and Excise must be weaponized with the creation of a border security agency with the immigration division which must also be weaponized through reform and overhaul.

The security apparatus of all legal ports and the post office must be reconfigured to engage with the operations of transnational crime through them. Trained personnel of integrity utilsing the latest surveillance technology that works and is maintained must engage with this threat constantly. The protocol that know determines which containers will be scanned, examined thoroughly and those that will not has to be scrapped and reformulated in terms of the realities of the operational tactics of transnational organised crime to breach port security. There must then be the required quantum of staff and working machinery to ensure the smooth flow of cargo in and our of these ports.

Our repeated failure to retool the state agencies constantly in order to effectively grapple with transnational organised crime over decades of their presence in T&T means that we must now move to erect brand new barn doors after all the horses have bolted, running wild, generating mayhem and bloodshed in the social order. Ours is a grave, complex problem that the TTPS by itself cannot solve for the problem arises from weaknesses in the state which are outside of the remit of the TTPS to act. To continue with the same old failed policies we are as the little boy on the beach who believed he could drain the ocean with a spoon. We the people of T&T must note that if the murder toll of October 2022 continues into November and December 2022 we will cross 600 murders for the year of 2022. Time to think out of the box of defined reality which has repeatedly failed.

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