43 animals smuggled into Trinidad and Tobago through Icacos

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Animals discovered in a cart during an illegal smuggling attempt in Icacos on April 9. – Photo courtesy the Ministry of Agriculture

AGRICULTURE Minister Kazim Hosein has warned that the importation of illegal livestock will not be tolerated.

In a statement on April 9, Hosein said the illicit trade posed grave risks to citizens’ lives.

His warning comes after 43 animals were found during an attempt to smuggle them into Trinidad and Tobago through an illegal entry point in Icacos on April 9.

The statement described the incident as “disturbing.” The statement said at 9.30 am, during a routine patrol, officers saw an incoming vessel with a cart in tow.

As they approached, the vessel came onshore and a trailer tractor was attempting to pull the cart onto the shore.

The release said several people were involved in the operation but quickly fled, leaving the cart behind.

When inspected, the officers found livestock animals.

Hosein vehemently condemned the deplorable and intolerable conditions under which these animals were transported.

“The cruel treatment of these animals is reprehensible and poses a grave threat to both animal welfare and public health.”

He added that “Illegal animal imports violate existing regulations and are a criminal offence punishable by law.”

The statement said the ministry, under the guidance of its chief veterinary officer, is investigating the incident.

The ministry also urged citizens to remain vigilant and promptly report suspicious activities related to illegal animal imports.

In January, the minister also issued a similar warning against the purchase of illegal livestock and agricultural products.

He spoke after touring areas across the southern peninsula, including Cedros and Icacos. At the time, the ministry said of particular concern was the “rampant illegal importation of agricultural products and wildlife.”

Hosein warned that all illegal livestock found on sea and farms will be seized and destroyed.

“This illicit activity not only poses a threat to our local ecosystems but also jeopardises the lives and livelihoods of our citizens.”