Cubans are coming to Saint Lucia to be smuggled by go-fast boats and cataramans into the United States via Saint Maarten and the British Virgin Islands, an INTERPOL sponsored investigative skills to combat human trafficking course being held in Saint Lucia has been told.
Inspector Troy Lamontagne of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) told the opening session of the event yesterday at the Bay Gardens Beach hotel, that there has been a new discovery of persons from the Dominican Republic disembarking cruises in order to be smuggled to the United States.
However he said that the authorities here will continue to work with partner agencies to disrupt, and where possible, prosecute persons who facilitate human trafficking or smuggling activities.
The law enforcement official told the training session here that based on intelligence and investigation, Saint Lucia is a source, transit and destination country for trafficking in human beings, as well as a transit point for migrant smuggling.
“These are not glamourous classifications to be associated with, especially if the country is not doing all that is legally possible to fight the problem,” Lamontagne said.
He noted that although for four consecutive years Saint Lucia has been on the watch list of the United States State Department as a Tier Two country, this Island has come a long way.
Lamontagne explained that countries on the Tier Two watch list are considered as nations that do not meet the minimum standard in eliminating human trafficking.
However he observed that Saint Lucia has enacted legislation criminalising human trafficking and has taken institutional measures to implement the legislation.
Lamontagne recalled that the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force in 2014 launched an operation to rescue six Ukrainian and Russian Federation nationals who were employed here as sex workers.
But he told the training session that the victims did not cooperate with law enforcement and their request to be repatriated was honoured.
Lamontagne said several other operations followed, most notably the Lambirds Academy investigation which was recently partially resolved in the High Court, with the victims being reimbursed money that was taken from them.