King: Turks and Caicos overwhelmed with illegal migration attempts
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Acting Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Commodore Dr. Raymond King said yesterday the organization’s efforts and expanded coverage of the nation’s territorial waters, particularly in the south, has diverted illegal migrants to Turks and Caicos.
According to King, Turks and Caicos and U.S. Coast Guard have recently arrested more than 400 illegal migrants on four separate vessels.
He said The Bahamas is seeking to conclude a maritime agreement with TCI that would facilitate a vessel being dedicated to assist the island and allow TCI ship riders on Bahamian vessels.
“The posture that we have maintained has more than likely had an adverse effect on Turks and Caicos because they have arrested in excess of over 400 — almost four vessels — [and] the Coast Guard intercepted one recently,” King said.
“It seems to be now that they are headed toward TCI because of what we have done.
“But we are seeking to strengthen our relationship with Turks and Caicos. We have a comprehensive maritime agreement that we are seeking to conclude whereby we can employ them as ship riders onboard our vessels and dedicate an asset to assist them in the fight because they are being completely overwhelmed at this time.”
He continued: “If you are doing something and you are doing it successfully, they will adjust.
“And so, it is like a balloon effect.
“If you take a balloon and you squeeze in the middle, the air moves to the sides.
“When we think about our southern border where it is just over 100 nautical miles between Matthew town and Ragged Island; that’s a lot of domain to cover.”
King said the coastal radar on Inagua, though limited, has greatly assisted in providing coverage of Bahamian waters in the south. He said the incorporation of drones, which can be manned from RBDF vessels will offer three times the coverage, though he expects criminals to respond to take “evasive action”.
“That is why one of our overarching strategic objectives is to have a multi-layered security posture, which would include the decentralization of our vessels, our aircraft, the coastal radars, as well as the drones and the automated identification system,” he said.
“We have that incorporated in the coastal system and to use the drones from the vessels.
“And so, we will have overlapping concentric circles, which should cover and alert us to any vessel that may be coming into Bahamian waters in the archipelago. But they will respond and it is a matter of us being vigilant, adjusting our posture. We have trending over the years where we know what certain threats and what they do, and so, we design our strategies in terms of those trends, but every now and then we keep an eye out on the other areas because criminals will make adjustments and we can see [those] efforts.”