Following recent reports of alleged extortion being made against business people by gang members, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal is now urging government to establish an extortion unit within the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS).
Moonilal during his contribution to the 2024 Budget debate on Wednesday, expressed deep concern with this new form of extortion, in which gangsters put pressure on business people to pay them for security and threaten to harm them and their families if the money is not paid.
He said, “It is time the police, the TTPS, creates an extortion unit to deal with this specific issue of extortion.”
He also pointed out that stiffer penalties are needed to combat the issue.
According to Moonilal, this may also require amending the Larceny Act and the possible creation of a new offence of ‘extortion by gang members’, as the offence now only carries a five-year maximum penalty if found guilty.
“This requires a stiff penalty, a stiff sentence to send the message,” he said.
He said when businesses close down there is a negative rippling effect on workers, taxes and, by extension, the economy.
“Businessmen and women are telling you that they prefer to go and live abroad than to be here for gang members to be calling them for protection money and security payments and so on,” he said.
He also called on the police to be more vigilant, as he told them not to expect businessmen to walk into a police station to make reports due to the fear of reprisals from the gang members.
“It has to be intelligence-driven,” he said.
Moonilal said the issue of extortion “is an urgent matter that the Government needs to address.”