UPP Chair says Gov’t has been aware of smuggling ring since hush-up of Haitian and Indian abscondments

Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP) D. Gisele Isaac is asking whether any investigations were launched into the disappearance of Haitians from the Immigration Department’s Detention Centre and the abscondment of Indians from a hotel, last year.

These two sets of travelers apparently vanished without a trace, and citizens and residents are yet to be officially told whether they left the country or could still be on island.

It was REAL News correspondent George Wehner who broke the story on these incidents.  It prompted the Immigration Department to issue a tepid response, criticizing one article and publishing a wanted bulletin for the five Haitians who had been attempting to get to Montserrat on fraudulent documents.

Isaac says there was information that the Haitians and Indians had been smuggled out of this country by boat; but, up to this time – just short of a year – there has been no update from the Immigration Department on either incident.

She says she found it strange that no communication was released to the public before REAL News broke the stories.

The UPP chairman says the Government has been fully aware that persons are leaving Antigua and Barbuda illegally by boat. Her comment refers to the recent attempt to smuggle West Africans into US territory, which ended with three persons confirmed dead and over a dozen missing and presumed dead.

In spite of the Government’s knowledge of these incidents, Isaac says, the illegal activity is continuing without hindrance.

Isaac refers to the migrant-smuggling activity as an organized ring, and says it should have been dismantled, given that the Administration had some knowledge of it.

She notes that there has been no announcement of the stepping-up of patrols over the past eight years – since the discovery that young Syrian males were being brought into Antigua and then smuggled into the US Virgin Islands by boat.

According to her, someone is clearly making money from the smuggling ring.