File photo: National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.
National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds has said the Seaport Co-operation (SEACOP) project has helped Trinidad and Tobago make significant progress in dealing with cocaine trafficking and improved the country’s border-surveillance abilities.
The project was launched in 2015 and is one of seven initiatives by the European Commission’s Cocaine Route Programme.
The project brought opportunities for joint operations through information-sharing between ports of countries involved in the project
At the signing of the MOU to enter phase five of the project, on Wednesday at his ministry in Port of Spain, Hinds said, “There has been some success coming out of this in terms of cocaine seizure.
“We’ve benefited as well in the receipt of tools and equipment for use in our operations to reduce maritime trafficking, as well as an enhanced national capacity with respect to the detection and interdiction of narcotics.”
The final phase of the project will focus on reinforcing the effectiveness of maritime intelligence and maritime/riverine control networks. It will also strengthen the country’s ability to integrate knowledge to deal with maritime threats and transatlantic illicit trafficking routes.
Hinds said he looks forward to seeing the full benefits of the project in the years to come, especially in helping the country achieve its border-control targets.
He said it is expected to strengthen the capacities of TT’s existing and new joint maritime control units.
“It is expected to benefit us as well through the publication of a maritime threat assessment regarding illicit trafficking across the Atlantic. in co-operation with our key partners. and the development of a national and regional education system and training centres to carry on the learning in this operation.”
Hinds said TT has alredy benefited substantially from participation in training courses, conferences and mentoring events under this project “and for this, we are more than grateful.”
The fifth phase of SEACOP is scheduled to end in December 2023.