A HIGH-POWERED M-16 assault rifle, together with 18 rounds of ammunition, was recovered by Port of Spain Division officers yesterday morning during a police exercise in the Beetham Gardens area.
Also, 18 people were arrested in connection with shooting and robbery offences, drug possession and on outstanding warrants.
The exercise came as part the police drive to rid the division of illegal items and activities.
Police said they had received information that a known gang leader had recently purchased the rifle and during the exercise the firearm was found in a bushy area behind the man's house around 7 a.m.
The man, police said, was not arrested as he was not technically in possession of the weapon.
During an impromptu press briefing yesterday evening at Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters, Riverside Plaza, Port of Spain, Deputy Commissioner Mervyn Richardson commended the officers involved in the exercise for their commitment to duty, citing the "devastation" the weapon could have caused had it been discharged.
"It is only one gun, but this one gun can do extensive damage. It has the capability of taking multiple lives," said Richardson.
The exercise was coordinated by Richardson, spearheaded by Snr Supt Wayne Boyd and included Inspector Sahadeo Singh together with officers from the Inter-Agency Task Force, Guard and Emergency Branch (GEB), Canine Unit and CID.