Trinidad & Tobago: Government cracks down on gangs

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The Independent US

Authorities rounded up 117 people in Trinidad and Tobago after imposing emergency rule on the oil-rich Caribbean nation this week to halt a spike in violent crime.

Police commissioner Dwayne Gibbs said 117 criminal suspects were detained between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, including at least 56 purported gang members on charges ranging from drug possession and trafficking to illegal weapons possession.

They were arrested under the limited state of emergency announced by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Sunday, which gave the police and military broad powers to conduct search and seizure operations and make arrests.

The suspension of some constitutional guarantees came in response to a spate of murders blamed on the drug trade and turf wars over smuggling routes through Trinidad and Tobago, which is a trans-shipment point for South American cocaine headed to Europe and the US.

The twin-island country, which is a leading supplier of liquefied natural gas to the US, has faced a growing threat from armed gangs.