Trinidad’s il­lic­it sex trade has spilled over in­to the sis­ter isle of To­ba­go, with Venezue­lan pros­ti­tutes be­ing car­ried to the is­land by Trinida­di­an “busi­ness­men.”

In Part Two of the Sex Sells se­ries, Guardian Me­dia’s in­ves­tiga­tive re­porter Shar­lene Ram­per­sad vis­it­ed To­ba­go over the week­end.

There have been nu­mer­ous re­ports of Venezue­lans pros­ti­tutes op­er­at­ing on the is­land, but most lo­cals are scep­ti­cal of speak­ing to the me­dia.

But Michael, a 37-year-old a glass bot­tom boat op­er­a­tor, did not shy away from ques­tions. From where he runs his busi­ness in Store Bay, Michael meets and in­ter­acts with both the women and their “pimp”- a Trinida­di­an man- when they are scout­ing clients on the beach.

“Yea, they have been com­ing here for about a year. There is some­body who sort of con­trols them, and he would come and scout cus­tomers for them,” Michael re­vealed.

He said when the women are brought to To­ba­go, the man would rent out hol­i­day homes where the clients could meet the women.

He said a Trinida­di­an woman, who he knows on­ly as “Deb­bie” would bring the women to To­ba­go.

“Deb­bie used to bring them across reg­u­lar, I haven’t seen her for a cou­ple of months but when she bring­ing, is every week­end. There is an­oth­er Trinida­di­an fel­la, when he comes, he would tell the fel­las he have some girls work­ing and he charg­ing $400 for half an hour.”

When he first start­ed to come, he get re­al busi­ness from them boys…they were ex­cit­ed to see the Span­ish (women.) If you hear them say­ing, “Span­ish in de place boy!”

Michael said the “pimp’s” tar­get au­di­ence is To­ba­go busi­ness­men but said any­one with mon­ey could “get through.”

“Once you have mon­ey, you set. Is mon­ey they look­ing for not love.”

Asked if he ever had an ex­pe­ri­ence with the women, Michael replied, “Nah sah! I have five chil­dren and eight girl­friends…my hands full all the time.”

Al­though Michael knows pros­ti­tu­tion is gen­er­al­ly frowned up­on, he be­lieves that once prop­er­ly reg­u­lat­ed, sex tourism can be a ma­jor bonus for To­ba­go.

“I trav­el a lot, and in a lot of places, sex goes with tourism. From time to time, I get the white guys com­ing up to me to ask if there is any­where they can go to have some “fun” with­out their wives…that is busi­ness, sex tourism is big busi­ness. It’s now that they are com­ing to To­ba­go, but Trinidad al­ways had it…when I come to Trinidad, I go with my friends and just lime at these “whore” hous­es, but it is some­thing To­ba­go can ben­e­fit from too.”

He said the women would come to To­ba­go when busi­ness is “slow” in Trinidad, but To­bag­o­ni­ans alone are not a steady source of in­come for them.

“It’s like they work Trinidad first and when things slow there, they come to To­ba­go to try their hand here, but the busi­ness here for them wouldn’t be steady be­cause most fel­las have a girl­friend or two so they can’t give them busi­ness right through.”

He said the women are brought in­to the coun­try most times via the fer­ry ser­vice.

“Al­though they il­le­gal and don’t have a pass­port, once Deb­bie or the next fel­la pass some mon­ey in the port, they com­ing in nor­mal like every­body else.”

Michael said based on his in­ter­ac­tion with them, he doesn’t be­lieve the Venezue­lan women be­ing brought in­to To­ba­go are be­ing forced to pros­ti­tute them­selves.

Call “Tony”

While check­ing oth­er ar­eas on the is­land for signs of pros­ti­tutes, GML was giv­en a phone num­ber a man iden­ti­fied as “Tony” who would be able to “link” Venezue­lan women.

The per­son who of­fered up Tony’s num­ber said he usu­al­ly calls Tony when he is hav­ing par­ties and needs a “few girls” for en­ter­tain­ment.

How­ev­er, calls to the num­ber pro­vid­ed went to voice­mail.

GML was al­so giv­en di­rec­tions to a bar in the sea­side vil­lage of Pem­broke where sev­er­al Venezue­lan women were said to be work­ing, but vil­lagers there said the bar was raid­ed by po­lice three weeks ago and is now closed on most days.

Po­lice aware but de­tec­tion rate low

Su­per­in­ten­dent Sharon Blake-Clarke told Guardian Me­dia that To­ba­go po­lice are aware that Venezue­lan pros­ti­tutes are work­ing on the is­land, but to date, no one has been ar­rest­ed or charged.

In an in­ter­view on Sat­ur­day, Blake-Clarke said, “We have knowl­edge that there are some things hap­pen­ing, but we have not charged any­one. We don’t have a record of any­one be­ing charged, but we have in­for­ma­tion that these things are hap­pen­ing and we are cer­tain­ly aware of them.”

Asked why the de­tec­tion rate is non-ex­is­tent if the po­lice are al­ready aware of the pros­ti­tutes, Blake-Clarke said un­like, in Trinidad, po­lice have a hard time telling tourists apart from pros­ti­tutes in To­ba­go.

“Be­cause To­ba­go is gen­er­al­ly tourist-ori­ent­ed, it is dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish those who are here as tourists from those who are here to work as pros­ti­tutes…you will find it is a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult to iden­ti­fy and de­tect them than it is in Trinidad be­cause you are ac­cus­tomed to see­ing peo­ple of that ilk walk­ing around and as op­posed to be­ing in To­ba­go.”

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