According to some of the findings of a 2019 CARICOM Human Trafficking study, corruption at the hands of state officials and law enforcement officers is a significant factor in the facilitation of human trafficking between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago.
The research carried out by researcher Dr. C Justine Pierre, and his assistant by Nayrobis Rodriguez gathered information from traffickers, smugglers, victims, law enforcement officers, as well as from anti-human trafficking organizations in more than 32 countries.
According to investigations carried out in the Venezuelan town of Tucupita, some of the gangs in the region are headed and operated by law-enforcement officers from Trinidad & Tobago.
The investigation included interviews with human traffickers.
During one investigation, discussions between researchers and military agents revealed that the organized-crime gang was led by a man nicknamed ‘El Monky,’ who, at the time of his arrest, was found in possession of the telephone number of a Trinidadian police officer.
A Venezuelan trafficker indicated that through his connection with elements in the T&T Police Service, he has been assured of protection by officers who advise him where to enter the country.
He also claimed that the officers provide security for the safe-houses where the women are kept before they are carried across Trinidad & Tobago in trucks, cars, maxi-taxis, and vans.
Another trafficker confirmed these claims. He too has been working with a police officer from Trinidad and Tobago who he says pays him to provide women for his T&T-based organization. The officer is a constable and is a member of an organized South-American crime network.
The trafficker did admit that he was part of a gang that specialized in kidnapping Venezuelans and carrying them to T&T, adding that they worked together to bring women across the waters, where they were forced to work, in many instances, as sex slaves and prostitutes.
To support his claims, he showed the research team the officer’s cell phone number.
He also provided a series of correspondence between the two of them, demonstrating that discussions were about human trafficking activities.
When approached by the research team, the accused officer denied the allegations, saying he has never been a member of a gang.
Asked why a known-trafficker would have his phone number, the constable stated he did not know why, and that having someone’s phone number in one’s possession does not constitute a crime.