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Did TCI Police wait 30 weeks to get serious about radical, deadly gang turf war?

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By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff 

 

#TurksandCaicos, October 6, 2022 – Questions are being raised about the timeline surrounding the flare-up of violence in the Turks and Caicos these last few days and whether earlier, strategic intervention could have saved lives and the TCIs reputation.  The genesis of the senseless killing spree stretches back to March 2022 according to Nigel Dakin, TCI Governor; 207 days or nearly 30 weeks ago.

On Saturday March 12, 2022 the Turks and Caicos was in the midst of one of the first crime waves of the year, Four robberies had been carried out the night before and a man was robbed and shot in the early morning, that man would later die, and when Gari Santi Charles was murdered around 6pm that night, the nations security leaders were silent.  There would be one more innocent man robbed and killed that week before a decisive statement was made.

Of the two innocent who were robbed and brutally murdered, Governor Nigel Dakin said, “It’s hard to find the appropriate words to express one’s heart-felt sympathy to those they leave behind nor utter words of sufficient condemnation to those who took their lives.”

Of Santi, not even his name was confirmed by the Governor or Police Commissioner Trevor Botting who both made extensive statements condemning the crime spree.  All the public was told was that Police had been trying to apprehend him on four different occasions and were unsuccessful.  Obviously,  the police had an idea of how dangerous this man was proven by the many failed attempts to nab him.

A month passed and another wave of crime, including shooting robberies and home break ins began in early April. On the week of April 5th, Five Cays residents were forced to endure days of unexplained shootings that culminated in one injury and an extension of the failed gun amnesty.  The police knew exactly who was doing the shooting, and said so in a statement on April 8th.

“Armed policing operations have been deployed in Five cays in response to this situation, both to push back against the criminals carrying and discharging firearms, but also to proactively target those who we know are responsible,” they said.

Three days later Randall Rigby Junior was shot by an officer in a planned policing operation on Venetian Road.  The police say they went ‘to arrest a suspect for serious offences of violence and firearms related crime.’  A firearm was recovered on scene and an officer was injured.  Rigby died in hospital that night, and the police indicated no further comment would be made.

Like Charles, Rigby was not named by the police and no gang related statements were ever made in regards to the two deaths.

Unbeknownst to the public, Charles’ death, and that of Randall Rigby would spell serious consequences for the country.  That is according to Co-Chair of the security council Nigel Dakin in a statement on October 3rd.

“Several months ago, two local gangs, and yes, there is a very significant local element to this, two local gangs lost their leadership.  One, extremely local, one extremely violent local gang leader was shot dead by police for resisting arrest.  The other, a Haitian gang leader, who the police had made four separate attempts to arrest in the shanty areas of Romi Yard, was killed by one of his own gang, before he could be arrested.”

Between the deaths of Charles and the statement made by Dakin this past Monday, 207 days passed, 24 more murders were committed, all but one of them were young men and all but one of them who died was shot to death.

Fifteen of the 24 died in a 29-day span between September 3rd and October 2nd.  Included in that tally are innocents who were resting on a Sunday morning, enjoying an island vacation, or just having a night out with friends.  It was only after that bout of extreme viciousness that Governor Dakin, who chairs the National Security Council along with Premier Washington Misick, made the tell-all statement to the public from Parliament.

“The vacuum and confusion this created, allowing a predominately Jamaican gang, with a relatively small footprint here, to reinforce from Jamaica.”

The gravity with which the statement was delivered was felt deeply by Islanders, but it  begs the question, how long have the powers that be had this information?

Was the issue raised with the Prime Minister of Jamaica on the Premier’s visit in August?

How long has the knowledge that Jamaican affiliated gangs had not only infiltrated the Turks and Caicos, but were expanding been in the hands of those with the power to do something about it?

The Government also obviously has some knowledge of the involvement of our own young men in the issue.

This is as referenced by Premier Washington Misick whose warnings on September 5th were a grim foreshadowing to Sunday’s murder of a tourist, who was killed by bullets meant for the tour operators.

Based on the fervor with which Charles was pursued, the capture of Rigby and the detailed statement on Monday, it is abundantly clear the police knew something.  And yet no immediate announcement was made of the  significance of these so-called dangerous ‘gang leaders’ to the public .  Nor were the deaths followed up with any significant, on record, anti-gang operations, and to date no successful gang related convictions have been reported.

Only in the past few days has Turks and Caicos been supported by the UK, with a tactical unit training team arriving on Sunday.  The governor said five had arrived on the day of a three person killing rampage.

The Bahamas, through its Police Force, would also lend manpower support within days of the address at the Legislature.

The Jamaican Constabulary Force is offering intelligence-led support as well, Magnetic Media has learned.

Meanwhile, it cannot be ignored that the Royal Turks and Caicos Police has acknowledged they are out of their depth and are calling in and grateful for reinforcements.

The question remains, why not sooner, when lives could have been saved and the onslaught of unprecedented crime could have possibly been averted altogether.

Caribbean News

Grants for farmers

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#TurksandCaicos, January 31, 2023 – Good Morning to my colleagues in government, I recognize……..and most importantly good morning to the farmers. It is my pleasure today to have you here at this award ceremony.  For the very first time in Turks and Caicos, farmers are getting relief for hurricane damage.

This shows that the government is committed to ensuring that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands have access to a constant and nutritious supply of food, reduce the food import bill and retain money in the local economy. Food Security is the foundation of all human needs. Given the threat to the global supply chain and growing inaccessibility to enough nutritious food, the Government is committed to supporting the farmers to produce local food, to supplement the food requirement of the country. My government’s priority is to provide an enabling environment, to facilitate local investment within the Agriculture Sector as outlined in the People’s Plan for Empowerment

In February last year (2022) my government launched the Agriculture Finance Support Programme (Agro-Grant Incentive). This Finance Support Program for farmers is the first program of this kind in the Turks and Caicos Islands and shows Government’s mandate is to invest heavily in local food production through providing financial support. My government has allocated US$250,000.00 in this first year to promote agriculture development. This Finance Program has 3 areas of support

  • Improvement Programmes – to upgrade farms, Existing registered farmers who wish to perform farm upgrades can receive a maximum of $20,000
  • New Farm Start Up/Young Entrepreneurs– For new or younger farmers between the ages of 18-25 years can receive a maximum of $15,000
  • Disaster Relief – this is specifically in response to National Natural Disasters “Acts of Nature” inclusive of earthquake, hurricane and storms and other approved natural disasters. The value of this grant will be 10% of the assessed damages (up to a maximum of $20,000 USD

To date 12 farmers have received grants in the first 2 categories. Today we are here to give disaster relief to those registered farmers who would have suffered from losses due to the passage of hurricane Fiona in September last year.

Government knows that Farming is an expensive business, farmers livelihood depends on the investment they make on their farms. We live in a small island state that is vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricane. These disasters can have devastating effects on farms, destroying years of productive work and effort farmers would have put in.

Government in recognizing the important contribution farmers make to Food security and the vulnerabilities they face has moved into action to provide much needed support towards the rebuilding of the farms. Today 15 registered will be receiving funds for disaster relief to assist with their rebuilding efforts. This monies I know will be used for the purposes granted.

I want to thank my Cabinet colleagues and Premier for supporting the continued efforts to grow the Agriculture Sector.

My department of Agriculture recognizes farming is dynamic and as such has lobbied Cabinet for continued support. I am pleased to say that in August last year through a Cabinet Paper, government had approved amending the Agriculture Policy to provide full exemption of import duties for farm vehicles registered farmers can now apply through the department for this support. At that meeting we also agreed for the Department of Agriculture to develop a comprehensive Agro-Incentive Program to support farming in the TCI.

Once again I would like to commend the farmers who are benefiting today for their hard work and dedication and look forward to serving you as your minister

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Bahamas News

U.S. Supports the RBPF With Additional Crime Fighting Vehicles on The Bahamas’ “Road to 50”

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#TheBahamas, January 31, 2023 – Since 1973, the United States and The Bahamas have enjoyed a long-lasting security partnership.  To mark this valued friendship, the United States Government, on January 31, 2023, renewed its support for the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) with 20 new Ford Police Inceptor Hybrid SUVs valuing nearly $1.4 million.  The United States’ Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts; Prime Minister, the Hon. Philip Davis; Minister of National Security, the Hon. Wayne Munroe and RBPF Commissioner Clayton Fernander were on hand for the donation at RBPF East Hill Street Headquarters.

The 20 hybrid vehicles will be added to the 32 vehicles previously donated to the RBPF by the US government to help replace crucial infrastructure lost during Hurricane Dorian.  Recovering from a hurricane is an arduous process that requires support at many levels, from roads and housing to mental health services.  The U.S. government hopes these vehicles will contribute to one key step in the process: citizen security.  These vehicles will not only assist the RBPF’s efforts to combat crime but will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the islands.

In her remarks Chargé Pitts noted, “these vehicles are just one example of the United States’ continued efforts to help for The Bahamas’ keep its citizens and visitors safe.”

Prime Minister Philip Davis showed his appreciation for this timely vehicle donation as it will assist with added capacity and increased saturation patrols on the streets.  The Prime Minister added that residents will notice an increased police presence and the police will have new capacity to respond quickly to any criminal activity.

RBPF Commissioner Clayton Fernander highlighted that “we have noticeably taken more illegal firearms and ammunition off our streets in 2022.  We have also seized more illegal drugs including marijuana and marijuana plants than in [previous] years.  Suffice to say, we have efficiently utilized all 32 vehicles previously donated by the U.S. government in our crime fighting efforts.”

In recent years, the U.S. Government, through U.S. Embassy Nassau, has delivered more than $25 million to assist The Bahamas with efforts to fight crime.  On behalf of the Bahamian people, Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe extended his gratitude for the U.S. government’s assistance noting “It seems that when we’re together there [is] always an occasion where they [U.S. government] have helped us and assisted us substantially.”

Captions: Credited to U.S. Embassy Nassau

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Bahamas News

Minister of Health & Wellness thanks Cuban nurses for their service during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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#TheBahamas, January 31, 2023 – An appreciation ceremony was held at SuperClubs Breezes resort, January 30, 2023, to thank the remaining cohort of nurses from the Republic of Cuba who joined the cadre of healthcare workers at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) to assist in the delivery of hospital services and patient care in face of the impact of COVID-19.
The cohort originally comprised 42 nurses who started their duties on Monday, January 24, 2022. The ceremony was attended by some 25 remaining nurses.
 
Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville thanked the Cuban Ambassador, His Excellency Julio Cesar Gonzalez Marchante, on behalf of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues, for Cuba’s response to the call for help from the Bahamas Government.
 
“You came to us in one of our most dangerous moments. You came to us in the heat of the Delta Variant when many of our brothers and sisters lost their lives as a result of COVID,” Minister Darville said.
“At the time that I went to Cuba, we had about 100 nurses in our healthcare system who were out as a result of COVID, while the developed world was recruiting our nurses left, right and centre.”
 
He also noted that at that time The Bahamas could not even get vaccines.
 
“We are a Small Island Developing State. The world was hoarding the vaccines to developed countries and our population was very vulnerable because we did not have access to what the developed world had.”
 
Minister Darville said, “But we had a friend 100 miles to the south of us who came to our rescue. You came to us at our most vulnerable moment. For that as a country, Your Excellency, we will forever be grateful to the Republic of Cuba.”
 
The Minister noted that the nurses’ services were so exemplary and needed, the contract, which was originally for three months, was extended to one-year. Despite this, he said it was time for the nurses to return home to their loved ones.
However, he explained that the relationship between the two countries has not ended as he is in negotiations with the Republic of Cuba for bringing in some additional biomedical engineers, physicians, respiratory therapists and HVAC specialists.
 
 
PHOTO CAPTION – Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville thanked the nurses from the Republic of Cuba for bolstering the country’s healthcare system during the COVID-19 Pandemic, during an appreciation ceremony at SuperClubs Breezes, Monday, January 30, 2023.
 
(BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)

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