Caribbean News Round-up

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17 killed in Venezuela prison blaze

File Photo
File Photo

[BBC] – Seventeen people have been killed and another 11 injured in a fire at a prison in Venezuela. The cause of the blaze at Tocuyito jail near the city of Valencia is still being investigated.

Inmates said an electrical fault was to blame but investigators have yet to provide an official report. Prisons in Venezuela are notoriously overcrowded and violent. Pressure group Venezuelan Prison Observatory says more than 300 inmates were killed in 2014.

Nine men and eight women died in the fire which spread through one of the units and forensic experts are trying to identify the bodies.

Relatives who gathered outside the morgue in Valencia said they believed the male victims were inmates while the female ones were spending the night in the penitentiary. They said it was not unusual for visitors to spend Sunday night with their incarcerated partners.

Officials said security inside and around the prison had been increased to stop inmates from rioting or attempting to escape. Venezuela has one of the highest crime and homicide rates in Latin America, and the judicial system is struggling to cope with the caseload.
Duo escape T&T prison on Independence day

Prison escapees Steve Mc Gilvery and Leroy Mohammed
Prison escapees Steve Mc Gilvery and Leroy Mohammed

[Trinidad Guardian] – The search continues for prison escapees Steve Mc Gilvery and Leroy Mohammed. The two men escaped from Carrera Island Prison Facility Island last night around 7pm.

Prison officers will be interrogated this morning. Both men were being held in a top security section of the prison.

The Coast Guard was alerted to thier escape around 10 pm last night and immediately deployed vessels to find the men. The coast guard searched all surrounding waters and near by vessels. Officers also searched around the coast line.

According to CNC3’s sources, the National Operations Centre was unable to lend assistance as it was busy with matters concerning Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

The air guard was also unavailable as it was assisting Dominica with search and rescue operations after Tropical Storm Erika caused major flooding and lindslides throughout the country.

Bahamian caught at Florida port with cocaine taped to ankles

bahamian-drugs[Caribbean360] – US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers arrested a Bahamian man for smuggling approximately 2.4 pounds of cocaine into the country, taped to his ankles and in his luggage.

The man, whose name was not given, had arrived at Port Everglades on a cruise ferry from his homeland.

During an inspection, CBP officers noticed he was nervously moving items around in his luggage and they questioned him and inspected his bag. They discovered two brick-shaped packages containing a white, powdery substance that tested positive for cocaine.

After patting down the man, the officers discovered additional packages of cocaine taped to his ankles. A total of 2.4 pounds of cocaine was seized.

The cocaine and all evidence were turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Port Everglades port director Jorge Roig said the seizure was another excellent example of CBP officers’ expertise and vigilance in preventing dangerous drugs from entering the US.

On a typical day, CBP welcomes nearly one million visitors, screens more than 67,000 cargo containers, arrests more than 1,100 individuals and seizes nearly six tonnes of illicit drugs.

Oil price crash prompts scramble for Caribbean storage tanks

bulk-storage-tank-6[Reuters] – Demand for crude storage in the Caribbean, one of the world’s most important oil hubs, is rising as producers and traders try to ride out the worst price crash in six years by holding onto more barrels or making blends that can be sold for premiums.

The last time tanks in the logistically-important islands were this full, during the price collapse of 2009, companies started leasing vessels to use as floating storage.

That is not yet happening now, but the only way to get tank space at the moment is to sublease it, said one tank broker with decades of experience.

Since June, his firm alone has received requests to lease up to 7.5 million barrels of tankage in a region with some 100 million barrels of capacity. That is much more than in previous months, though no official statistics are available.

Others signs also point to a shortage of tanks. Midstream players Buckeye Partners LP and NuStar Energy LP say they have basically run out of space. And some producers with terminals in the zone say now is a good time to put barrels into tanks and wait for U.S. crude prices to rise from $40-a-barrel doldrums.

“All tanks are subscribed,” said the storage broker. Things have not looked this tight in six years.

Crude inventories have been building up in recent months in most terminals, leaving limited space for subleasing, which could imply higher rents, he said.

“We are at 100 percent capacity”, said a spokesman from NuStar Energy, referring to bookings at the company’s terminal in St. Eustatius, with tankage for 13 million barrels.

Nustar, which in 2014 gained Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA as a customer, is already in discussions to extend a contract set to expire in early 2017, he added.

Buckeye Partners, which has about a third of the region’s storage capacity excluding tanks for refineries, has already leased out tanks it is adding in St. Lucia. It is also converting product tanks for crude in the Bahamas.

“We expect those growth projects to be fully operational later this year. And those are all contracted under term agreements,” Khalid Muslih, head of Buckeye’s terminals business, said on the company’s July results call.

PDVSA, Brazil’s Petrobras and Royal Dutch Shell regularly use Buckeye’s terminals in St. Lucia and the Bahamas, according to Thomson Reuters trade flows data.

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