90 arrested in East Port of Spain raid
Gyasi Gonzales email@example.com
AFTER last week’s spate of murders in East Port of Spain and Laventille which left a total of five young men and one pregnant teenage girl dead the police backed up by the Regiment arrested a total of 90 men from Duncan, George and Nelson Streets yesterday morning.
This is apart from the 12 suspected gang members who were arrested in Laventille last week Thursday night.
Yesterday morning’s raiding party consisted of approximately 300 police officers supported by 100 soldiers.
For the last week residents of East Port of Spain in an area known as “The Plannings,” cried out for protection by the State as residents described being fed-up of the sometimes broad daylight murders along with the nightly and constant crackle of gun-fire.
Shot dead on Wednesday were cousins, Nyam Antoine aged 16 and Rasheeda Gomez who was also aged 16 but was pregnant for an 18-year-old resident of lower Duncan Street, Shondell Braithwaite who remains at the Port of Spain General Hospital in stable condition.
Killed in Laventille later that afternoon were Shawn Lewis aged 17 and another man Christopher Peters, 24 while on Wednesday night Samuel “Taboo” Brewster aged 29 was found shot dead at Mango Alley, Laventille while Akin Perry aged 28 was killed at Blondell Alley in Laventille.
The following day residents received a visit from Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar who empathised with them and their plight and even cried when she spoke to Natasha Rogers who was the mother of Nyam Antoine.
The delegation included National Security Minister Emmanuel George, Chief of Defence Staff Kenrick Maharaj and Ag CoP Stephen Williams, the latter who revealed some chilling statistics namely that in the last four years a total of 138 people had been murdered within a 200-metre radius in East Port of Spain.
Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar also promised residents some immediate relief from the violence by proposing that a police base camp be set up in the neighbourhood.
The Prime Minister held talks with Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley which will be followed by another meeting this Thursday with the goal of arriving at a solution.
Rowley visited the area Saturday along with Port of Spain South MP, Marlene McDonald.
Prior to last week’s murder spree however residents of East Port of Spain complained vehemently about gang members for Laventille occupying Duncan and Nelson Street apartments and throwing out the legitimate tenants.
Last week Saturday Housing Minister, Dr Roodlal Moonilal along with HDC’s Managing Director, Jearlean John met with Ag CoP Stephen Williams and the displaced residents were assured that their homes would be returned to them.
Yesterday’s raid began at 3 a.m. and ended at 10 a.m.
While searching the apartments those who were not detained were asked to remain outside as a thorough search of certain apartments were carried out.
A few residents complained while the majority looked on and did not say much.
Those who complained accused the police of keeping them outside their apartments for a long period of time while officers along with sniffer dogs searched the buildings for arms and ammunition.
Other people mostly younger women complained that their brothers and respective children’s father were being detained for no reason.
According to Assistant Commissioner of Police Glen Hackett who spearheaded the raid disagreed and cited several reasons for the detention of these men.
Out of the 90 arrested some are expected to be charged with gun and ammunition possession, outstanding warrants, shooting with intent, wounding, issuing threats my menaces, the illegal occupation of Housing Development Corporation (HDC) apartments and murder.
The police said that part of the reason behind yesterday morning’s raid was as a result of the increased incidents of murder and shootings in East Port of Spain.
According to ACP Hackett it was information gathered that led them to East Port of Spain yesterday morning amid intelligence that guns and ammunition were being stowed in these buildings.
“We are searching each and everyone of the apartments to ensure if they are indeed fire arms and ammunition that we confiscate those and arrest those persons who are in possession of them,” said ACP Hackett who spoke to reporters yesterday.
He added, “we are here to bring a level of confidence to the law abiding citizens that the police is willing to act on their behalf where they are perceived to be in jeopardy with respect to lawlessness.”
Hackett also mentioned about those people found illegally occupying HDC apartments stating, “we have some persons in custody who we have found in apartments which don’t belong to them and as such we will be engaging the HDC to verify our finding because persons who have been making these assertions have not come to the police to report these incidents so we are unaware at this point in time as to which apartments until this morning have been illegally occupied.”
Other officers involved in yesterday’s exercise which began around 3 a.m. and ended around 10 a.m. were Snr Supt Wayne Boyd, ASP Ajith Persad, Insp Sahadeo Singh and ASP Grant and Insp Harvey Jawahir.
Besides PoS Task Force officers branches of the police involved in the exercise were Southern Division Task Force, Central Division Task Force, Northern Division Task Force, North Eastern Division Task Force, the Regiment, Coast-guard, Air Guard, Guard and Emergency Branch, CID, Criminal Records Office, The Court and Process Branch, Criminal Gang and Intelligence Unit and the K9 Unit.