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Kidnapped Trinidad fishermen freed after US$90,000 ransom paid

By Radhica De Silva

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One of the fishermen who were released by the Venezuelan pirates at the Siparia Health Facility yesterday. Photo: Kristian De Silva

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Af­ter pay­ing a US$90,000 ran­som, which in­clud­ed 10 cell­phones, gold jew­ellery and sev­er­al boat en­gines, five fish­er­men from Morne Di­a­blo, Pe­nal, fi­nal­ly re­turned to their fam­i­lies yes­ter­day.

Lyn­ton Manohar, 35, Ja­son O’Bri­an, 38, Jagdesh Jude Jaikaran, 16, Bran­don Ar­joon, 28 and Ricky Ramb­harose, 35 ar­rived in a pirogue at Morne Di­a­blo around 7 am. Their fam­i­lies were nat­u­ral­ly over­joyed at their safe re­turn.

A source who re­quest­ed anonymi­ty said the ran­som was paid in two parts and the ab­duc­tion of the group was or­ches­trat­ed by a man with Trinida­di­an links.

“It was or­gan­ised by a South Trinida­di­an man with un­der­world links who al­leged­ly brings in guns, drugs, hon­ey and oth­er il­le­gal car­go from the Venezue­lan main­land,” the source said.

The first ran­som of US$30,000 was paid in ex­change for the life of Jer­ry O’Bri­an. He was the first to be re­leased and re­turned home last Wednes­day. O’Bri­an nev­er gave the me­dia an in­ter­view about his or­deal but a source said he was sent to or­gan­ise the rest of the ran­som. His fam­i­ly was un­will­ing to speak to the me­dia on his re­turn home say­ing they could not re­lease in­for­ma­tion be­cause the fish­er­men would be tor­tured based on sto­ries car­ried in the press.

The day af­ter the fish­er­men were kid­napped, Manohar’s fam­i­ly sold their boat en­gines and a van to raise the US$30,000. That was paid to the Venezue­lans via an in­ter­me­di­ary. Last week a US$60,000 ran­som was arranged and this was sent to Venezuela last Sat­ur­day. The men were sup­posed to have come home then but the kid­nap­pers said they need­ed to make sure that the mon­ey was not coun­ter­feit.

When the T&T Guardian vis­it­ed the fish­er­men yes­ter­day they were still in po­lice cus­tody at the Siparia Health Fa­cil­i­ty. They were un­will­ing to speak and hid from the me­dia. Jagdesh looked de­pressed but the oth­er fish­er­men ap­peared to be well fed and un­harmed. They spent sev­er­al hours at the health fa­cil­i­ty where po­lice of­fi­cers used pri­vate cars to keep them away from the glare of the me­dia.

A source who re­quest­ed anonymi­ty said the six fish­er­men were fish­ing and shrimp­ing when they were ac­cost­ed by six boat­loads of Venezue­lans car­ry­ing AK47 and AR15 guns.

The Venezue­lans were part of a pi­rate gang which fre­quents the Man­amo Riv­er in Venezuela. The leader has scores of young hun­gry Venezue­lans un­der his charge who earn their liveli­hoods by charg­ing a tax to any­one who en­ters their riv­er space.

In­ter­pol has re­ceived in­for­ma­tion about the gang, which has been work­ing with Venezuela’s Guardia Na­cional.

Of­fi­cers of the An­ti-Kid­nap­ping Squad have tak­en de­tailed state­ments from the fish­er­men and are work­ing with the Venezue­lan au­thor­i­ties.

Over the past year, sev­er­al fish­er­men from Ce­dros, Ica­cos, Moru­ga and Pe­nal have been kid­napped and ran­soms paid.

On Jan­u­ary 12, Ken­rick Mor­gan, 17 and his cousin Kendell Singh, 24, were kid­napped while fish­ing in the sea off Gran Chemin, Moru­ga. The kid­nap­pers de­mand­ed a ran­som of US$40,000 which was lat­er changed to US$20,000 and five iPhones. Sources say they were al­so re­leased.


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