Tip to Govt Officials Leads to Discovery of Illegal Migrants on Commercial Vessel
By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2023 – It was an anonymous tip to TCI Authorities, Magnetic Media can inform, which led to a trade vessel being searched and 95 illegal migrants being taken into custody. Information to the Ministry of Border Services proved credible and activated a joint law enforcement unit which foiled the illegal entry of the migrants and possibly other contraband.
A concerned citizen urgently passed on information that turned out to be scarily accurate, pinpointing a ship going by the name of FAMILY EXPRESS that would try to breach the island’s borders carrying migrants and reportedly other contraband.
A multi-agency team including the Ministry of Immigration and Border Services and Customs Departments, Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force and Turks and Caicos Islands Regiment, acted on the information early Christmas Morning.
Arlington Musgrove, Immigration and Border Services Minister said: “This is the latest operation in our intelligence-led focus on border-related crime. My government remains committed to a clear zero tolerance approach as we continue to crack down, disrupt networks and prosecute persons involved in the smuggling of illegal migrants.”
The officers searched the commercial Haitian trade vessel ‘MV Family Express’ which had actually made it into and docked in the TCI; just as described they found a total of 95 migrants on board who were immediately detained by the Immigration Department.
While our news organisation was informed of the successful capture and a deep search of the vessel on Christmas Day, to date no other information about whether or not illicit drugs and firearms had also been seized has been provided.
Now the government is working alongside agents from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), stationed here in the Turks and Caicos Islands to investigate the vessel’s arrival.
Notably, the vessel was a commercial one, a beautiful white and black boat with the name proudly displayed on the sides, nothing like the small fast boats packed with people that usually try to sneak into the bushy uninhabited areas. The brazen attempt foiled by a good citizen raises serious questions about whether this was a one-off attempt or whether licensed commercial carriers are abusing their privileges to break immigration laws.
In a similar joint operation in November 2022, a shipment of illegal firearms from the United States to the Turks and Caicos Islands was intercepted by US Homeland Security.
TCI Police Detective Holden Speaks Up on Blue Hills Rapes
#TurksandCaicos, March 27, 2023 – Following the announcement that several women had been robbed and assaulted in Blue Hills in the past weeks, Magnetic Media queried why the Police would wait until they had a man in custody to release an alert.
TCI’s newest addition to the top brass Detective Superintendent Dean Holden, Head of Crime, Safeguarding and Public Protection, told us that it initially appeared to be an isolated offence and not part of a series of incidents.
“The full circumstances needed to be investigated to ascertain the facts before a public alert could be considered. Misinformation in such a case would only cause unnecessary public concern and confusion and could adversely impact the investigation and the safeguarding of persons involved—” he said. “Even now there is no definitive information that these offences are linked, and investigators remain open-minded.”
Holden claimed an early alert with limited information could have hindered the investigation and they were trying to protect the women who may not have wanted to be identified based on where they lived.
As it turns out, the public concern was very much warranted, because there have been more violent sexual attacks, and more victims got hurt, forcing their hands.
“When further similar offences were committed, the overriding principle of sustained public protection was considered, hence the alert/release issued,” he said.
That alert was coupled with the news that a man had been arrested. Whether those further similar incidents could have been prevented if the public was informed earlier and taken extra precautions, is the underlying question. To date, we don’t know how many victims there are.
Police have increased patrols in the Blue Hills area and condemned the crimes as unacceptable. They have not indicated if anyone was charged for the offences yet.
FBI and Bahamas looking into woman’s death
#TheBahamas, March 17, 2023 – The FBI is investigating a woman’s ‘suspicious’ death on a Carnival Cruise ship in February. The unnamed woman and her husband boarded the Carnival Sunshine on February 27th, for a trip to the Bahamas, but she was dead before they arrived in the port in The Bahamas.
The FBI said Carnival’s team had administered life saving measures when the woman was reported unresponsive, but they were unsuccessful. The body and the woman’s husband were released to the Bahamian authorities when the cruise arrived in the country.
In a statement shared with US media houses, Carnival Cruises claimed the death has been a natural one. The Nassau Guardian said a source told them the police findings had concurred with that assessment saying it was a “normal sudden death of a tourist who wasn’t feeling well.”
The FBI was waiting for the cruise and when it got back to South Carolina on March 4th, they immediately boarded and began to investigate the room based on ‘evidence of a crime.’ The FBI also searched the couple’s car.
No updates have been shared to contradict the currently established cause of death.
Police Week Speech brings welcomed report for Police Marine Branch
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, March , 2023 – All around growth for the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force and its initiatives is what Commissioner Trevor Botting is promising with the revelation of several personnel additions in his address to the nation during Police Week.
The Marine Branch of the police in particular, is getting some much needed support.
“We are currently procuring new vessels for our Marine Branch, along with recruiting 12 marine officers for the team. The UK Government is funding a dedicated and highly technical aircraft for the Force to provide a critical capability to detect threats at sea,” he explained.
The capabilities of the Marine Branch have been a sore spot for some residents because as the team in Providenciales repeatedly proves its efficiency and indispensability, residents in Grand Turk remain without the aid of their own branch in emergencies. It makes the announcement of expansion doubly significant.
More expansions are coming on land, with the promised UK backup, finally active, shared Botting.
“Whilst colleagues from the RBPF came to support us so magnificently, there have been other key additions to the ranks within the Force. We have welcomed a new Head of Crime, Superintendent Dean Holden and 17 investigators, funded by the UK Government to support our Serious Crime Team. Our staffing numbers have been bolstered by a number of highly trained and experienced police officers that have joined us from across the region, as well as 18 new recruits who have just left for their initial training in the Bahamas,” Botting said, also promising that promotions were underway for Assistant Superintendents, Inspectors and Sergeants.”
A drone unit has been launched, along with the expansion of the community policing project.
“Working with our young people is critical in building safer communities. The assistance and encouragement we have received from the people we serve is truly appreciated,” he said, maintaining that the Force is ‘growing its capability fast– to meet the demands of the future in order to best protect communities.”
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