Hinds: Government fighting crime in Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds. – File photo

NATIONAL Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds says the removal of illegal firearms remains a top priority for his government, along with creating opportunities for young people.

He said the approach would help ensure youths did not “descend into the abyss of crime and criminality when opportunities for growth and happiness abound.”

In Parliament on May 13, UNC Naparima MP Rodney Charles asked Hinds what the government planned to do to combat crime in Tobago, citing Tobago having already passed half of last year’s total murder toll in five months.

Hinds replied that of the eight murders committed in Tobago for this year, four of them were gang-related, one was the result of a domestic situation, two were drug-related, and the cause of the other was unknown.

He added that one murder had already been solved and two cases were awaiting DNA results before they could move forward.

Hinds said crime in Tobago was as a result of criminal gangs and gang activity spilling over from Trinidad on to that island.

He said the police response had been to initiate more active direct patrols, targeting hotspots. He highlighted Golden Lane as one such hot spot.

Hinds said the police exercise in Tobago aimed to seize illegal firearms and ammunition and arrest priority offenders.

“Focus, deterrence, and the intervention of the victim and witness support unit in the communities of bereaved families will help to mitigate retaliation killings.”

Hinds said the presence and prevalence of automatic weapons had substantially contributed to the increasing murder toll, saying it married itself to the display of violence.

“Years ago, such violence was resolved with a little bottle and stone, now they run for a gun and spray up the place, killing innocent bystanders as well.”

Tobago murders in 2024

• On January 1, New Year’s Day, sanitation worker Wanya Kareem Small was shot and killed on Patience Hill. Jamal Samuel, 20, of Signal Hill Main Road, Signal Hill, was charged with murder.

• January 12, The body of Akinde Bisson was found at Old Grange Road around 8 am. Bissoon’s body bore marks of violence.

• Nigel Julien, 44, also known as Tall Man, of Signal Hill/Lambeau Road, Signal Hill, was killed in a drive-by shooting on January 25.

• On February 15, Vernon Thomas, 66, of Mt Grace, was Tobago’s fourth murder. Around 9 pm, a loud explosion was heard by people liming in the Dutch Fort area. They saw a man running away from the scene while Thomas lay motionless on the roadway with gunshot wounds about his body.

• On March 2, Tobago recorded its fifth murder when Jafari Fraser crashed his car around 4 am, into a shop near the Pembroke Bay Road Bridge. He was found slumped behind the wheel of the car with gunshot wounds.

• On May 4, the body of Mt Marie, Scarborough resident Shellon Walters-Joseph, 32, was found off a precipice in Mt St George.

• On May 9, the island recorded its eighth murder in 2024 and the second with a female victim in less than a week. Twenty-nine-year-old Nikesha Sandy, also known as “Stoonkie,” of Jaegers Hall Trace in Plymouth, was shot and killed along Jaegers Hall Trace.