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Illegal sloops from Haiti flood TCI during COVID-19 crisis; residents on edge

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#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands — Overnight Turks and Caicos borders were breached by suspected illegal Haitian migrants and while some were captured, others appear to have escaped detection and made landfall.

Reports from residents of sightings and face-to-face encounters are vexing and disconcerting, especially given the public health crises created internationally by the novel coronavirus: COVID-19.

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In a voice note circulated on WhatsApp, a resident of Providenciales said: “Looks like we have been locked down and our borders are not being protected as we have so many boats coming in here.”

The man expressed that he believed as many as three boats landed in the northwestern end of Providenciales.

Governor and Officers on the scene of a successful interception at South Dock, Providenciales, TCI

“On my journey doing my exercise this morning, I encountered a little episode where me and my wife ran into a group of Haitians coming out of the bush. There was a bigger group ahead, so, one was coming to me speaking in Creole. I had to brush him off and continue walking, but it was kinda scary,” the man said in the audio message sent to relatives and advising them to ‘stay safe’.

Images shared on social media revealed law enforcers who were donning the all-important Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gear; however the six-foot rule of social distancing was clearly disregarded. Scores of captured illegal migrants were seen in one photograph, seated on the floor of the gymnasium with only around two-feet of spacing between the men.

In anticipation of the possible surge in illegal landings or interceptions and guided by the fact that flights between the Turks and Caicos and Haiti are suspended indefinitely; the Governor had informed the general public the Gus Lightbourne Gym would be used temporarily as a detention center.

Law Enforcers protected by PPEs, face masks and gloves as they arrest illegal migrants from Haiti in an interception overnight

Governor Nigel Dakin earlier this week reported that a vessel with many hundreds of Haitian migrants was turned back.  That was good work.  However, it was not a guarantee that the illegal migrants would not make another attempt.

The Turks and Caicos has a coastal radar, which performs well in the effort to interdict and intercept. The images from overnight, however are reflective of those boats which sometimes slip through undetected and the people which are apprehended, then become the responsibility of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government with its limited capacity and strained resources.

COVID-19 is an all-consuming affront and threat to the modern world, but human traffickers flagrantly disregarding the additional pressure of smuggling operations. Residents are incensed by this and by the response to this ongoing problem by officials, including the United Kingdom which is responsible for National Security and Foreign Affairs.

“After I got away from them and I called 91, continue my journey about 45-minutes up to now, not a police came into Blue Hills as yet! On my way back, on the dirt road a whole group of them – about 15 – were running, just running.”

It was not the only report of no or slow response to the sightings of suspected illegal migrants by residents of Providenciales.

Additionally, Haitian officials, according to media reports, are accused of not accurately reporting on COVID-19 cases within the republic.  Many find it impossible to believe there are only 16 or 18 coronavirus patients in all of Haiti.

Suspected illegal migrants from nearby Haiti photographed in bushes; residents say trying to evade capture

Haiti has a population of 11 million and notoriously falls short when it comes to coping with outbreaks of infectious diseases. The country shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, which tragically leads the region in COVID-19 cases and deaths. Over 1,300 are infected and the death toll is approaching 60 people according to April 2 statistics.

Cell phone video, also distributed on social media had captured the goings-on within the bush area flanking the Providenciales Landfill or dump site; three males are spotted navigating the bushes which have long been identified as a common hide-out for undocumented migrants from nearby Haiti.

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TCI News

Joint Operations Result in Interception of Illegal Migrants in Providenciales

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#RoyalTCIPolice, #Providenciales, June 10, 2024 – The Royal Bahamas Defence Force intercepted an illegal sloop transporting SIXTY-SIX (66) irregular migrants on the evening of June 9th, 2024.

The detained group, comprising FIFTY-FIVE (55) males and ELEVEN (11) females, was
intercepted in TCI waters and handed over to the TCI Immigration Task Force for processing.

On June 8th, the Marine Branch of the RTCIPF intercepted a blue and white fibreglass boat
carrying thirty-two (32) irregular migrants.

The boat was spotted 27 miles east of South Caicos and found to be transporting twenty-six (26)
males and six (6) females. The irregular migrants were handed over to Immigration for
processing.

These successful interdictions came following information obtained from a US Customs and
Border Force aircraft.

A joint operation conducted on June 7th has led to the detention of irregular migrants in Blue
Hills. Acting on the information received, authorities detained forty-eight (48) individuals
running along a beach.

Officers conducted extensive searches of surrounding areas, and tragically, the body of a female
was found at Pigeon Pound. Further investigations are ongoing, but it is believed the incident is
linked to a vessel attempting to enter the country illegally.

Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police (Specialist Tactical Operations) Mat Newton states, “I
wish to thank all law enforcement agencies for their invaluable assistance in intercepting illegal
sloops attempting to enter the TCI. Your dedication and collaboration have been instrumental in
ensuring national security and protecting our borders. Our Radar, Marine and Drone units, the
TCI Regiment, the Immigration Task Force, and the Customs Department conducted the
operations.

“The RTCIPF strongly condemns the attempts to enter the TCI illegally. Such actions violate the
law and pose severe risks to life, especially in adverse weather conditions.

“We urge those facilitating and encouraging these illegal attempts to consider the severe
consequences. Do not risk your life or the lives of others by embarking on such perilous
journeys.

“I am also grateful to those people from our communities who report suspicious activity relating
to illegal migration and would urge the public to continue keeping us informed.”
The RTCIPF asks the public to notify the closest police station, contact 911, the Serious Crime
Unit at 231-1842, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-8477 to anonymously provide any information on
illegal entry into the TCI.

Additionally, individuals are encouraged to download the Crimestoppers P3 app to share
information anonymously.

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Caribbean News

TCI Sport delegation visits the Cayman Islands and Barbados with key sport leaders

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TCI Sports Commission delegation traveled to the Cayman Islands and Barbados to visit with key Sport leaders. The TCI delegation included the Sports Commission Director, Mr. Jarrett Forbes, Deputy Director, Mr. Alvin Parker, and Facility Manager for Providenciales, Mr. Darian Forbes. The aim of the travel was to visit major facilities, with priorities being pool facilities, and discuss sport development strategies.

The team had the pleasure of being hosted by the Deputy Chief Officer for Sport, Dr. Dalton Walter, and the Director of Sports, Mr. Kurt Hyde in the Cayman Islands; who facilitated the facility tours and shared valuable information on Sports Development. Meetings were held with Deputy Chief Officer Ms. Joan West and Technical Director for the Cayman Islands Aquatics Sport Association, Mr. Jacky Pellerin, on the Cayman Islands’ new 50-meter and 25 meter 10 lanes Mrytha pool facility, as well as with Ms. Shakeina Bush from the National Olympic Office on National Federation development and funding opportunities. The Sports Commission delegation was also grateful for the courtesy call with the Minister of Sport for the Cayman Islands, Hon. Isaac Rankine, and the Chief Officer Ms. Teresa Echenique.

During the Barbados leg of the exploratory travel, the Sports Commission team was hosted by the Director of the National Sports Council, Mr. Neil Murrell, and the Assistant Director of Sports, Mr. Ryan Toppin. The TCI team toured the National Sport Council facilities and visited the Barbados National Olympic Association. Significant to the TCI’s plan to develop an aquatic center, the TCI Sports Commission visited the Barbados Aquatic Sport Association and met with former National Olympic Academy Director, Mr. Dave Farmer, and the President and Second Vice President of the Barbados Swim Association, Mr. Robert Armstrong and Mr. Nicholas Mathis. Insights were shared regarding swimming pool design, development and maintenance as well as pool programming strategies to ensure the growth and sustainability of swimming in the islands.

The TCI delegation also visited other stadium facilities such as Track and Field, Football and Cricket, and other major facilities in Basketball and Boxing. The TCI Sport Commission officials had great discussions with both the Cayman Islands and Barbados sports officials surrounding the development of coaches, athlete development pathways, and strengthening relationships with National Sport Governing Bodies.

Director of Sports, Mr. Jarrett Forbes, said, “We were very grateful for the hospitality and support extended by our Caribbean colleagues. Their support affirmed the commitment and unity among the Caribbean community to develop sports in the region.”

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Crime

Male Charged With Murder

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#TurksandCaicos, June 7, 2024 – A 29-year-old male has been charged with the murder of BUTLER BRAVE PROPHETE. KERLY AGENOR, of Dock Yard, Providenciales, was charged today (June 06th) following advice from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. In addition to the murder, the accused faces the following charges:

  • Possession of a Firearm
  • Possession of Ammunition
  • Discharge of a Firearm
  • Discharge of Ammunition

The charges against Mr. AGENOR state that on March 05th, 2024, in Providenciales, he murdered Mr. PROPHETE, Contrary to Section 3 of the Offenses Against the Person Ordinance Chapter 3.08.

At the time of his death, Mr. Prophete, 22, of Wheeland, Providenciales, was exiting his workplace on the Lower Bight and was shot dead.

Mr AGENOR remains in custody pending a Sufficiency Hearing.

In a brief statement, Superintendent in charge of Crime, Safeguarding, Public Protection, and Intelligence Dean Holden said: “I wish to thank the officers of the Serious Crime Unit for their dedication and commitment in bringing this case to a charge. Further, I wish to reassure the public and families that the RTCIPF is committed to bringing prosecutions against perpetrators and, when possible, closure to persons who have lost loved ones to these senseless homicides”.

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