Photo: Joint controls being carried out in Back Street.
Philipsburg–The Immigration and Border Protection Services (IBP), the Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) and Customs Sint Maarten carried out joint controls in the Philipsburg area regarding the “boardwalk barkers” on Thursday.
Together with the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard and the Inspectorates of TEATT and VSA, the justice workers checked paperwork and issued several fines on the Boardwalk, Front Street and Back Street.
The collaboration was initiated by IBP as the department has been receiving numerous complaints about “barkers” harassing tourists. Barkers usually linger near the beach or stand outside of stores, bars, and restaurant businesses, to entice tourists with various types of offers in multiple languages, explained a press release from the Ministry of Justice.
According to the ministry, this activity is frowned upon by residents and the authorities and leaves tourists likely to walk away with an unfavorable impression of Philipsburg. The joint effort was also planned to execute overall controls for residence and work permits, illegal substances and business licenses.
During the controls, some stores were checked for their proper paperwork and several fines were issued. Though no arrests were made, a total of 20 persons were brought in for further investigations, released the Ministry.
Four persons were released after investigating; one Guyanese with valid papers for the Dutch side, two French citizens who were handed over to the French immigration, one Jamaican with French residency and one Dominican who was a mental patient and was placed in her mother’s custody under “meldplicht’ (reporting duty) and instructed to arrange her status for the country. The other 16 persons will remain in custody and are currently facing deportation.
“The community on the Boardwalk praised the groups for their joint effort and welcome such actions on a more regular basis,” stated Customs Sint Maarten Management Team Member Franklin Bernadina.
“On behalf of IBP, I’d like to thank KPSM, Customs Sint Maarten, our Coast Guard as well as the Inspectorates of TEATT and VSA for their cooperation and positive contribution in carrying out this operation. Protecting the country’s image is a crucial task we remain committed to. For this reason, the controls will continue weekly until this inappropriate behavior is eliminated,” concluded IBP Division Head Ryan Peterson.