A Barbadian national is among several released from detention following raids at two nightclubs late Friday night into early Saturday morning.
More than 30 people were detained following the raids.
The Barbadian and three Antiguans were freed after they provided documents to prove their nationalities and they had no connection to the suspected cases of human trafficking which led to raids under an operation dubbed “Libertado.”
In the case of the Barbadian, it was found that she was legally working and residing in Antigua.
Most of the other people in custody, mainly Jamaican nationals, were being questioned up to late yesterday as to whether they were coerced into coming to Antigua and made to work as dancers and strippers in the Cheetah Nightclub and G-Sport Night Club, the two entities that were raided.
While one group is being held and questioned at St. John’s Police Station, another is at the Immigration Detention Centre in Coolidge, at the former “Panam Base”.
The Public Safety ministry issued a statement on Saturday morning saying operation “Libertado” is the name given to region-wide joint Action Day Operations which are in collaboration with INTERPOL.
The operation seeks to free as many victims of human trafficking as possible. As such, the joint operation targeted these establishments based on information provided. The operation was spearheaded by the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Committee, within the Ministry of Public Safety and Labour.
Other participating organisations included members of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda, the Fire Department, the Department of Immigration, the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP), the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force (ABDF), and the Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
This latest operation came two months after similar raids were carried out at Jam Dung Night Club and Wendy’s Bar and over 20 people were detained. The owner of Jam Dung, Cheryl Thompson, was later charged with four counts of Human Trafficking and the matter is pending before the court. Many of the other individuals were released and some were sent back to their homeland, Jamaica.
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