KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Some foreigners buying gold here might be encouraging criminal activities, in addition to breaking the country’s immigration and trade laws, according to Minister of National Security Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
Therefore, the police have been instructed to arrest and deport such persons, Gonsalves said last week, adding that two Venezuelans were recently denied entry into the country on these grounds.
“In the earlier period, some Venezuelans, Trinidadians and other people where going about town with impunity but that has come under careful watch of the police, who have instructions to deal with them,” Gonsalves said on radio.
“First of all, to come in to engage in such activities, you need a trader’s licence. And you can’t come in saying that you are coming in as a visitor and get involved in work activities. Because you would have lied to the immigration officials,” he noted.
Gonsalves, who is also Prime Minister and Minister of Legal Affairs, noted that there are several offences for which persons engaging in such activities can be arrested and charged.
He said it was not a simple issue of people trading in gold. “This is a matter where there is an encouragement of people to snatch the gold,” he said.
According to recent media reports, several persons have had their gold jewellery snatched in Kingstown.
Prominent trade unionist Joseph “Burns” Bonadie recently fought off an assailant who bit him in an attempt to snatch his gold chain.
Gonsalves said that both citizens and foreigners alike were trying to recruit people, including 15-year-olds, to snatch jewellery.
“These multiple things have to be dealt with not in any sequential manner by at the same time. Fighting the criminals is an on-going matter and anybody who thinks that you have a magic bullet, they are completely mistaken,” said Gonsalves during a general discussion of crime and violence here.
He further stated that with enhanced freedom of movement in CARICOM, there was a movement of criminal from Trinidad and Tobago, “where you have a lot of them”.