EU renews vow to assist region in fight against drugs

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds outside Parliament in Port of Spain. – FILE PHOTO/ROGER JACOB

A year after signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the European Union to assist the country and by extension the Caribbean in fighting the drug trade, Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds, in June met with an EU delegation to bolster the collaboration.

In a statement on Thursday, the National Security Ministry said Hinds chaired the June 30 meeting of the National Steering Committee for the Seaport Corporation Project (SEACOP) Phase Five.

SEACOP is an EU initiative that was established in 2010. One dimension of it is the wider European Commission-funded Cocaine Route Programme (CRP). SEACOP seeks to build capacities and strengthen co-operation against maritime trafficking in countries on the trans-Atlantic cocaine route (West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean).

“The project’s activities include the creation of inter-agency units in key ports, as well as the establishment of national maritime information systems to promote information sharing,” the statement said.

Head of delegation of the EU to TT Peter Cavendish, said the EU stood ready to deepen security co-operation in the Caribbean. Cavendish was thanked for his continued support to initiatives aimed at combating transnational crime, in particular the transshipment of illicit narcotics by Hinds during the meeting. Hinds also welcomed additional co-operation.

The meeting, which took place on June 30, focused on additional support for ongoing anti-drug trafficking operations, the donation of maritime security equipment and succession planning for inter-agency units within SEACOP’s local chapter.

Also at the meeting were Vice Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier General Dexter Francis, Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher, Deputy Chief Immigration Officer Mary Roseann St Hill-Billouin, Deputy Comptroller of Customs and Excise Bernard Nicholas, head of the National Operations Fusion Centre Lieutenant Colonel Dexter Metivier and retired Major Richard Lynch, deputy director of the International Affairs Unit, Ministry of National Security.