BY DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
HUMAN trafficking has been a “difficult” issue for the Royal Bahamas Police Force, but Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade says they remained determined in their pursuit of smugglers who put people’s lives at risk.
He noted that while there have been some interdictions and arrests, this illegal and risky activity has not yet been discouraged.
Mr Greenslade said: “We know who some of them are and we have arrested them before; they seem not to be discouraged from continuing that kind of activity and I am not sure quite why.
“It is something we have to look at again. We feel it is disgraceful and totally contrary to the law, and puts people at risk, and even leads to death.”
He said Grand Bahama has had its share of unfortunate human smuggling accidents.
The most recent occurred last July when eight persons lost their lives after the boat they were on sank in waters off Holmes Rock. Among the dead was a young child.
There have also been several reported disappearances of persons who paid smugglers for illegal entry into the United States.
The case of two Turkish men drew some attention after their family members and the Turkish Embassy in Cuba expressed concern over the matter.
Veysi Oral and Huseyin Oskan disappeared in March 2012. The men were working illegally in Grand Bahama at the time and had paid $6,000 each for passage to the US.
The two men, along with 10 Dominicans and seven Jamaicans, were bundled on a go-fast boat on March 9, 2012. None of them has been seen or heard from since.
Family members have provided police with the names of persons believed to be involved, as well as phone records, and documents.
When asked for an update on the case, Assistant Commissioner of Police for Grand Bahama Emrick Seymour said police followed leads and picked up some persons for questioning, but later released them.
“We have nothing concrete and our investigations are still ongoing into the matter,” he said.
Commissioner Greenslade said illegal human trafficking has been included in his policing plan for 2014.
“We will pay attention to that and we are going to go after these people, and we are going to ensure they know that we are right up in their faces and watching them, and take them before the courts,” he said.