The Extortion Quagmire – “Coward Tax”

May 12, 2017 Crime , North America , OPINION/NEWS


Ricardo Swire

Extortion is also known as “The Culture of Silence.” Recent internal security updates advised that Trinidad & Tobago’s (T&T) gang kingpins and rogue administration officials are extorting “Coward Tax” from Ministry of Works & Transport contractors.

The subversive activity has severely handicapped road projects across the Twin Island Republic and affected infrastructural growth, Trinidad & Tobago Police Service’s (TTPS) Criminal Gang Intelligence Unit (CGIU) assigning the capital Port of Spain and Laventille as “high-risk” districts.

Belmont, Diego Martin, Fyzabad, La Brea, Laventille and Point Fortin are other monitored communities. T&T’s criminal syndicates are institutionalized to the point where they pose serious threats to internal security stability and crucial infrastructure. Ministry of Works & Transport contractors build box drains, sidewalks, bridges, pave and resurface roads, conduct slope stabilization, construct alternative access routes, modernize bridges and pedestrian overpasses.

CGIU data indicated rival gangs contention, for Ministry of Works & Transport contractor extortion dominance, is mostly in Port of Spain. One gang boss extorted TT$23,000 monthly, from the national Unemployment Relief Program (URP), before his assassination. Another top crime boss poses as a car dealership owner and directs a six hundred member strong gang, with twenty-one “Clips” or “splinter sections” across T&T. Some members deployed to wreak havoc, for lucrative community development contracts, in eastern and southern districts of Trinidad’s capital.

In February 2017 a Ministry of Works & Transport contractor in Sangre Grande, Trinidad’s largest northeastern town, was awarded a drainage contract. The project extended from “Monte Video” village in the vicinity of Paria Main Road that connects Toco with Matelet, to Sans Souci. This “Great View from the Mountains” agreement was transitory, abandoned after the contractor received an ominous death threat.

Shakedown gangs forcefully encourage contractors to use provided names for placements on Ministry of Works & Transport projects. An illegal TT$3,000 fee charged for each name, payable to the gang boss. Contractors are extorted to safely retrieve their equipment from completed projects. On May 2, 2017 an unidentified gunman entered a Lutchmeesingh Transport Contractors’ worksite in Arima, adjacent to Sangre Grande and Arouca, in the Northern Range’s south-central hills.

The armed extortionist ordered the Housing Development Corporation’s (HDC) “River-Runs-Through-It” project Foreman to hand over a large sum of cash in his possession. During the unofficial collection one Lutchmeesingh Transport Contractors’ worker was shot in his leg. First responders transported the wounded man to Port of Spain General Hospital. A few days before another Ministry of Works & Transport contractor, assigned to Beetham Highway’s high value culvert project, was confronted by gangsters who cogently solicited Coward Tax payment.










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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