Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, March 16, 2018 – In the last week, the Turks and Caicos Islands have recorded five illegal Haitian sloop landings in Providenciales and two boats were turned back when spotted – at sea – by the United States Coast Guard. Acting Police Commissioner, Trevor Botting addressed media in an urgent, specially called press conference on Friday and his main focus was to quell concerns linked to inflated figures on how many illegal boats were actually confirmed in the Turks and Caicos.
“So the ninth of March, there was a confirmed landing at South Dock; on the 11th of March – partners from the US Coast Guard, intercepted two sloops and they were turned back to Haiti so they did not actually land; on 12th March there was a confirmed landing at Chalk Sound and on the 15th of March there was a confirmed landing near the Amanyara Resort. In the early hours of this morning, there was a confirmed landing, again, near the Amanyara Resort.”
The acting Commissioner said operations are active in the hunt for illegal migrants and in the latest landing, there were a reported four arrests. Most significant for the Police said Botting, was the capture of some who are believed to be more than simple passengers of an illegal voyage from Haiti.
“Most significantly for us there has been arrest of people who may well be facilitating illegal people entering the TCI.”
The press conference was called with media late today and was aired live on National Radio after a frantic outcry by the public on social media, where in addition to interesting ideas and legitimate concerns, there has been worrying comments threatening vigilante activity and incorrect information.
AC Botting said the Police do understand the fear, “We really accept the public concern about this… there is a lot of proactive activity linked to illegal migration and illegal people in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
The nation was informed that the Turks and Caicos Marine Branch has been on 24-hour patrol in an ongoing surveillance operation aimed at thwarting illegal boats from Haiti; but Botting admits the massive coastline of the Turks and Caicos proves challenging.
“They can’t see everything and they can’t be everywhere. There is a very clear patrol strategy which is reviewed regularly to make sure that we are working on the best intelligence so we try to put the boats in the right place at the right time.”
Botting went on to share what the Police believe is happening with the inundation of illegal landings originating out of nearby Haiti; he cited that it is far more organized and that the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police is, “throwing everything in the can at them” in order to seize these operations and operators who are making lots of money in the human trafficking operations.