Soldiers on patrol at Sando Wharf

Sol­diers from the T&T De­fence Force kept watch at the San Fer­nan­do port on Thurs­day as the Min­istry of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty tight­ened sur­veil­lance around T&T’s mar­itime bor­ders.

The pres­ence of the of­fi­cers was wel­comed by the res­i­dents of King’s Wharf who said boat­loads of Venezue­lans have been en­ter­ing the coun­try se­cret­ly over the past few months. A na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty source, who re­quest­ed anonymi­ty, said the sol­diers were part of a spe­cial op­er­a­tion.

David Richards who lives on the Wharf said he was hap­py that the mil­i­tary was now keep­ing watch at the port.

“Too many things are go­ing on here. A few days ago those Span­ish came in here and they climbed up on top of a van cheer­ing.

They feel they could come here just so,” Richards said be­fore walk­ing away.

An­oth­er man, who re­quest­ed anonymi­ty, said three weeks ago, a boat car­ry­ing 20 Venezue­lans docked at the Wharf.

“Peo­ple were wait­ing on them. They just clear off and run. The Span­ish have con­tacts here and when they come in, they know ex­act­ly where they go­ing,” he added.

They al­so said that a van-load of cop­per was brought in­to the port from Venezuela on Wednes­day.

“Peo­ple bring in all kinds of car­go, even hon­ey is be­ing brought in. The Cus­toms don’t like cer­tain peo­ple see­ing what go­ing on here. We glad the mil­i­tary is here main­tain­ing a pres­ence,” he added.

Mean­while, ac­tiv­i­ties at the Ce­dros Port re­mained at a stand­still as the T&T Coast Guard con­tin­ued a rigid search of all ves­sels en­ter­ing and ex­it­ing T&T’s ter­ri­to­r­i­al wa­ters.

A source at Im­mi­gra­tion said in­struc­tions were giv­en for the fer­ries to be al­lowed in­to Ce­dros from Mon­day. The bor­der pa­trols around the coasts have been stepped up but the source said more sur­veil­lance must be kept on the forest­ed points along the south­ern coasts where Venezue­lans are still be­ing al­lowed to en­ter the coun­try.

Shiploads of an­i­mals are still en­ter­ing cer­tain ar­eas. A source at Ica­cos said while the peo­ple are be­ing sent back, the car­goes of goods and scrap met­al are still be­ing al­lowed in.

Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Stu­art Young said bor­der pa­trols have been stepped up and all ves­sels en­ter­ing T&T’s wa­ters are be­ing searched.

Reporter: Rhadica De Silva