Friday, February 23, 2018

Tally: Major number of SoE arrests gang-related

Of the 1,143 people authorities arrested to date, 366 or 32.02 per cent have been arrested on gang-related offences since Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar declared the State of Emergency on August 21.

The remainder of the arrests included people on outstanding warrants (228 or 19.95 per cent), 178 on drug-related charges (representing 15.57 per cent) and 82 people who were judged to have breached the curfew (7.17 per cent), Sunday Express calculations have shown.

Police also arrested 30 persons (2.62 per cent) as murder or homicide suspects and 181 (15.84 per cent) on serious offences.

Those arrested on gun-related and traffic offences made up the remainder.

Gang members are being charged under the Anti-Gang Bill passed on April 1 last year, an Act that seeks "to make provision for the suppression of associations established for unlawful purposes and for the better preservation of public safety and order and for other related matters".

Within the first few days of the SoE, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan had said the declaration had prevented a crisis which could have led to a major loss of life and that Government only made the decision after security agencies discovered an "immediate threat and endangerment of public safety", without specifying whether gangs were directly involved.

But in a debate on the motion in Parliament Friday, Minister of National Security John Sandy said a number of drug busts culminating in a $22 million drug seizure at Piarco International Airport on August 16 would have initiated senseless killings in which innocent, law-abiding people would have died.

"Together with this information was the receipt of information and the assimilation of intelligence from our national security forces around midday Sunday August 21 that prompted me to request of the Prime Minister that she convene a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) so that I might share the information in my possession, " he said.

On August 26, Persad-Bissessar said that citizens were better off for the SoE.

"You are safer than ever before because they (criminals) are no longer out there to prey on you," she said, "....We will take them (criminals) out one way or the other."