Operation Unified Resolve

December 13, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

Joe Raedle/AFP

 

By

Ricardo Swire

Operation Unified Resolve, the fourteen day law enforcement multi-agency maneuver orchestrated by US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Tampa Florida agents, infiltrated a major transnational drugs and money laundering syndicate.

The criminal organization was masterminded by a Trinidadian national based in Santa Cruz, Trinidad. On December 3 2016 a senior American Customs agent counted US$2 million cash and recorded the serial numbers, before securing the money in Trinidad & Tobago’s Central Bank. Authorities sent America’s Treasury Department a documented copy for verification of the currency’s origin.

The multi-million dollar discovery resulted from a November 4 2016 Trinidad & Tobago Police Service’s (TTPS) raid. The US$2 million was hidden amongst a plyboard consignment inside a container offloaded at port Point Lisas in central Trinidad. According to one port employee, who performs operator duties, holes were made in several plywood sheets placed in the middle of assembled stacks. A safe containing the US$2 million was inserted in the hole, covered with other sheets of plywood and placed on a flatbed trailer.

A port Point Lisas document recorded the plyboard shipment’s consignee as a bogus company, with a phony telephone number and nonexistent South Trinidad address. T&T Customs & Excise records noted the US Virgin Islands (USVI) as source country of the US$2 million. One day prior to the plywood shipment’s arrival three port Point Lisas employees were contacted and told not to attend work the following day. T&T’s Security Intelligence Agency (SIA) linked the seized US$2 million, under FBI watch in T&T’s Central Bank, to a recent cocaine capture. Cash to be transported to Venezuela as partial payment for the Florida destined, law enforcement intercepted, cocaine shipment.

On July 1 2016 two Trinidadian men, one from Petit Valley the other from Santa Cruz, navigated the Yacht named “Buff” across the eastern Caribbean Sea on a course to Florida. Acting on received intelligence US Coast Guard (USCG) and Navy resources intercepted the Buff, boarded and searched the vessel. One hundred and fifty kilos of cocaine, worth US$5 million or TT$33.2 million, were discovered, the drugs parceled in crocus bags. A third unidentified Trinidadian man, who loaded packages of the cocaine in a rubber dinghy, also took a place in FBI custody.

Intelligence reports suggested the drug consignment was destined for the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The trafficking scheme’s northeast Trinidad based contractor’s syndicate had transnational co-conspirators in the US Virgin Islands (USVI) and America. There were also indications the US$2 million, now in FBI Tampa Florida office’s possession, was part of the Santa Cruz contractor’s payment for the BVI cocaine consignment.

Product was sourced from a Venezuelan trafficker based in South Trinidad, the Santa Cruz contractor’s business used as a front to dispatch the shipment and previous consignments to North American and Caribbean destinations. On November 22 2016 Trinidad & Tobago Police Service (TTPS) personnel, supporting Customs & Excise officers, raided the Santa Cruz contractor’s office. One computer hard drive and several documents were confiscated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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