One of the primary functions of the Drugs Intelligence Unit (D.I.U.) within the Office of National Drugs and Money Laundering Control Policy (O.N.D.C.P.) is the collection, collation, evaluation, analysis of information and dissemination of the finished product (Intelligence) to the Target and Surveillance Team for action. As has been observed throughout the year, the environment within the office is a fast paced one, in which matters requiring urgent or immediate attention frequently occur. This pace doesn’t prevent the D.I.U. from delivering intelligence products which will lead to the greatest impact on drug trafficking organizations in Antigua and Barbuda.
Tactical and Surveillance Team (T.A.S.T.)
The TAST is a unit that engages in specified support operations for counter narcotics and money laundering tasks. The role of TAST within the ONDCP has evolved throughout the years however; the main priority lies in interdicting the flow of narcotics and removing the benefits of crime from traffickers, thus helping to keep the streets of Antigua and Barbuda clean from the illicit drug trade.
The operational parameters have been established and TAST has played a significant lead role in the execution of the ONDCP’s mission statement. The team conducted a number of exclusive and joint operations aimed at apprehending known drug traffickers and identifying those that were unknown.
The Team also assisted the Financial Intelligence Unit in identifying and investigating suspected money launderers. TAST continues to work closely with its sister agencies in and around Antigua and Barbuda. This year, Court Cases were approached differently and the team was able to bring together all the local players in a first ever-joint prosecution where all local agencies played a major role.
In one particular case, charges were preferred by the Customs Department and The Immigration Department in an ONDCP led operation whereas prosecution was conducted by the Prosecutions Department of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda. This case also saw Sgt Warner of the Royal Police Force and Lt. James of the ABDF CG being established and accepted by the court as Ballistic and Marine experts respectively. A number of cases are still before the court. The results of conducted operations for the year are listed below.
Communication is a very important component of surveillance and therefore the team require the necessary type of radios in order to carry out successfully surveillance on targets.
The nature of the job demands that our officers exercise considerable initiative and discretion, requiring them to maintain a level headed and disciplined approach at all times. This is why there is an ongoing need for regular and realistic training, enabling us to deploy at short notice into widely differing operational environments, this avoids un-foreseen circumstances having the potential to cause confusion and mitigates risk to the public at large.
Similarly, the levels of stress and the danger that is associated with the job can sometimes be a bit much and as such there is a need for a counsellor or Psychologist to engage officers on a one-on-one basis. Officers with personal issues may not be able to separate them from work related issues and may react differently under pressure. The provision of insurance cover is a positive step in recognising the value of the team and supporting their welfare.
TAST has proven to be an important component of the ONDCP and has provided tangible returns, not only to the ONDCP but also to the nation of Antigua and Barbuda. The team members have risen to the many challenges facing them as they strive to accomplish a higher standard of professionalism within the Law Enforcement society.