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Moonilal: Extortion Unit Can Help Combat Extortion

OPPOSITION MP Dr Roodal Moonilal has called for the establishment of a special extortion unit within the Police Service to deal with criminals demanding ‘tax’ from the business community.

In a release on Wednesday, Moonilal said the slaying of businessman Kelvin Mohammed for refusing to support extortionists again exposes how dangerous and widespread this form of crime has become.

Mohammed was a hard-working businessman of Crown Trace, Enterprise, who, according to his relatives, had refused to pay a ‘tax’ to gangsters, he said.

He was shot dead on Monday.

Moonilal said there are increasing reports from various areas of the country of gangsters extorting monthly sums from business operators in return for not murdering or kidnapping them.

He added that business leaders are reporting that some extortionists are demanding up to $30,000 a month in exchange for protection, adding that some business communities are instituting measures to secure their safety and that of family members.

‘A highly specialised and multidivisional unit is required to deal with this nefarious offence. One cannot expect a police sentry to deal with such a serious issue.

‘What is needed is police officers with specialised training dealing with gangs, setting up sting operations, accessing special equipment, e.g., to tape conversations, video tape transactions, access to witness protection programme and access to foreign assistance to obtain hard evidence to prosecute,’ said Moonilal.

The Government, he said, should also amend the law to create a specific offence titled ‘extortion by gang members’.

The offence should carry a penalty of significant prison time, he said.

Moonilal said the law needs to be urgently amended to deal with this significant threat to the business sector, especially in these times when the present Government cannot be relied upon to create or protect jobs. He said further, it is a critical issue that requires the intervention of the Government in amending the relevant legislation and the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service in establishing an Extortion Unit.

‘I appeal to the authorities to treat this matter with the urgency and seriousness that it deserves.’ said Moonilal.

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