‘Piracy’ kidnappings probed for criminal links

MINISTER OF National Security Stuart Young says recent incidents of reported on-sea piracy and kidnappings of locals were being investigated for possible criminal links.

He was responding to a question in the House of Representatives on Friday. He was asked whether the Coast Guard has sufficient resources to treat with increased incidents of piracy in TT’s territorial waters.

Young replied: “It is not factually accurate to state that there is an increase in incidents of piracy in our territorial waters. This is simply not true.” He said from time to time there had been isolated incidents of citizens being subject to, what may be described as, acts of piracy.

“Some of the recent incidents of Trinidadian nationals being held for ransom are subject to investigations by law enforcement, and may have occurred in somewhat suspicious circumstances, having at their core illegal and criminal-type activity.”

Young said the Coast Guard would have been better served by the two offshore patrol vessels which were cancelled by the previous administration and were now prize assets of the Brazilian navy. He also said the maintenance of six Austal fast patrol vessels was not given priority from 2010 to 2015 and the interceptors were allowed to deteriorate.

He said Government has ordered two Cape Class vessels from Austal which will help the Coast Guard.