Fact Sheet
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
May 7, 2010


Problem

Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), located seven miles off the coast of Venezuela, is a convenient transshipment point for illicit drugs, primarily cocaine and marijuana but also heroin. Increased law enforcement success in Mexico and Colombia has led to greater amounts of illegal drugs transiting the Eastern Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago's petrochemical industry imports and exports chemicals that can be used for drug production and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GOTT) has instituted export controls to prevent diversion. T&T law enforcement and counternarcotics agencies struggle with protecting maritime borders and rely on U.S. Government (USG) programs to improve their proficiency. T&T also needs to strengthen its criminal justice system by passing DNA court-admissibility and wire-tapping bills. Violent crime has escalated in the last few years; including murder and at least five bombings. Violent crime remains a serious problem and is the public’s chief complaint.

U.S. Programs

To assist the GOTT to eliminate the flow of illegal drugs through Trinidad and Tobago to the United States, joint U.S./GOTT efforts focus on strengthening the GOTT's ability to detect and interdict drug shipments, bring traffickers and other criminals to trial, attack money laundering, and counter drug-related corruption. The U.S. also seeks to strengthen the administration of justice by providing training and technical assistance to help streamline Trinidad and Tobago's judicial process and protect witnesses from intimidation and murder. The USG has provided drug and explosive-detection canine/handler training to the Police Service, training courses in crime scene investigation, witness protection, explosive detection and combating terrorism, and supported Trinidad's newly established Canine Academy. The USG also provides the Trinidad & Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) with marine engineering, small boat maintenance, leadership, and crisis management training. Over the past year, the DEA and its local counterparts have been involved in investigations that led to the seizure of over 10 tons of cocaine transiting into or through Trinidadian waters. The GOTT-funded U.S. Customs Advisory Team provided technical assistance to Customs and Excise in tracking and intercepting marine vessels, including cargo container ships.