Notorious Venezuelans infiltrate Trinidad and Tobago gangs

Notorious Venezuelans infiltrate Trinidad and Tobago gangs
Venezuelan nationals Miguel Velasquez and another identified only as "Freddie" were among four people killed by police in Chaguanas last Friday
Venezuelan nationals Miguel Velasquez and another identified only as “Freddie” were among four people killed by police in Chaguanas last Friday

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — A mur­der­ous and no­to­ri­ous Venezue­lan gang has in­fil­trat­ed Trinidad and To­ba­go’s bor­ders and many of them are now part of the crim­i­nal land­scape that has in­ten­si­fied this coun­try’s vi­o­lence over the last few months.

The find­ings, se­nior in­tel­li­gence sources say, are con­tained in a num­ber of se­cret in­tel­li­gence re­ports that have been re­cent­ly pre­pared by var­i­ous arms of lo­cal law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties.

Guardian Me­dia saw the re­ports which high­light­ed the wor­ry­ing trend of the pres­ence here of mem­bers of the Venezue­lan gang Evande. Law en­force­ment of­fi­cers say sev­er­al hun­dred mem­bers of Evande, which re­port­ed­ly has more than 650 mem­bers, are in this coun­try il­le­gal­ly.

The law en­force­ment re­ports say Evande mem­bers have been re­spon­si­ble for sev­er­al vi­o­lent crimes in Venezuela, in­clud­ing high pro­file kid­nap­pings and mur­ders. How­ev­er, Evande mem­bers here have now em­bed­ded them­selves with lo­cal gangs and have al­so sought jobs on con­struc­tion sites across the coun­try. The re­ports al­so point­ed to the gang’s in­volve­ment in the traf­fick­ing of nar­cotics and firearms in­to this coun­try.

What au­thor­i­ties have al­so un­rav­elled in their in­ves­ti­ga­tion is that Evande mem­bers fled Venezuela for T&T not on­ly to es­cape ri­val gangs, but al­so the Venezue­lan Guardia Na­cional who were giv­en in­struc­tions to dis­man­tle their op­er­a­tions due to their “vi­o­lent and heinous na­ture.”

One se­nior in­tel­li­gence said, “This is go­ing to have a domi­no ef­fect in Trinidad and To­ba­go. With more drug seizures some­one is go­ing to have to pay the price.”

An­oth­er high rank­ing in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer fa­mil­iar with the re­port said the Venezue­lan gangs op­er­ate with a dif­fer­ent modus operan­di.

“These gang mem­bers move in groups and when they are go­ing to put down a hit they move with AK47s. If their tar­get is one per­son, they will open fire on that per­son even if there are oth­er peo­ple around. They will not be both­ered if in­no­cent peo­ple are killed. And that’s the dif­fer­ence with these Venezue­lan gangs,” he ex­plained.

Crim­i­nol­o­gist Dar­ius Figueira, who spoke to the T&T Guardian last Sat­ur­day, said Venezue­lan gangs have been set­ting up or­gan­ised crim­i­nal op­er­a­tions here and us­ing their com­pa­tri­ots in these ac­tiv­i­ties.

“They are pros­ti­tut­ing un­der the di­rec­tions and con­trol of Venezuela’s or­gan­ised crime, which is dis­turb­ing the bal­ance of forces on the ground in T&T’s gang­land,” Figueira said.

Figueira al­so al­lud­ed to the fact that these Venezue­lan gangs form coali­tions with lo­cal gangs. He said those Venezue­lans have al­ready af­fil­i­at­ed them­selves with lo­cal gang­land op­er­a­tors and they are not afraid to die.

Two se­nior in­tel­li­gence sources re­vealed to Guardian Me­dia that they have re­ceived cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion that at least three Venezue­lan na­tion­als shot and killed over the last month and a half in T&T were in some way con­nect­ed to the Evande gang.

One Venezue­lan na­tion­al was found dead on Feb­ru­ary 21 but is yet to be iden­ti­fied. His body was found dumped off Morne Co­co Road, Pe­tit Val­ley, with gun­shot wounds and his hands tied be­hind his back. Sources say he was a mem­ber of the Evande gang al­so they have not been able to con­firm his giv­en name. The oth­er Venezue­lan na­tion­als who had ties to the gang were Alexan­der Ce­de­no Ro­ro­ba, who was shot and killed near the El Pecos Grill in Wood­brook re­cent­ly. The man was re­port­ed­ly an asy­lum seek­er, but po­lice sources told Guardian last week that he worked as a hit­man in Venezuela.

The third Venezue­lan with deep ties to Evande was Jose Ro­driguez, 36, who was shot and killed by a lone gun­man while dri­ving along the West­ern Main Road in Glen­coe last Thurs­day.

One of the se­nior in­tel­li­gence sources ex­plained that Ro­driguez was able to get a ship­ment of co­caine from a Colom­bian link for a busi­ness­man in this coun­try. How­ev­er, the ship­ment was in­ter­cept­ed by po­lice sev­er­al months ago and Ro­driguez told the busi­ness­man the mon­ey for the mul­ti-mil­lion dol­lar ship­ment was still owed to the Colom­bians. But the busi­ness­man, the in­tel­li­gence source ex­plained, lat­er had Ro­driguez ex­e­cut­ed to can­cel out the debt.

“But be­cause these Colom­bian drug deal­ers are so con­nect­ed to Venezue­lan gangs and they are still owed mon­ey, it is on­ly a mat­ter of time be­fore they come knock­ing.”

CoP mon­i­tors grow­ing pat­tern

Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith has not­ed a “grow­ing pat­tern of cer­tain el­e­ments from the South Amer­i­can main­land at­tempt­ing to set up their trade of il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties in this coun­try.”

In a re­lease yes­ter­day, Grif­fith warned that this emerg­ing pat­tern could com­pro­mise the coun­try’s se­cu­ri­ty.

In an in­ter­view ear­li­er, how­ev­er, Grif­fith had re­fused to com­ment on the in­tel­li­gence re­ports on the Venezue­lan gang­sters in­fil­trat­ing T&T gangs and be­com­ing in­volved in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ty.

He al­so said he did not have any in­for­ma­tion to counter claims made by crim­i­nol­o­gist Dar­ius Figueira on Venezue­lan gangs now in­fil­trat­ing the coun­try.

In his re­lease last evening, he al­so stopped short of mak­ing any ref­er­ence to the T&T Guardian’s ex­clu­sive sto­ry. How­ev­er, he re­it­er­at­ed his po­si­tion on de­port­ing per­sons of in­ter­est back to their coun­tries.

He said to pre­vent a re­cur­rence of an in­ci­dent at the Freeport Po­lice Sta­tion in­volv­ing Venezue­lan women at­tack­ing of­fi­cers, of­fi­cers will now be “equipped with pep­per spray and tasers in tan­dem with the min­i­mum use of force pol­i­cy.”

In re­la­tion to that par­tic­u­lar in­ci­dent, Grif­fith said if the Venezue­lan na­tion­als are found to have over­stayed their time here they will be de­port­ed im­me­di­ate­ly.

Grif­fith al­so not­ed a num­ber of il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties in­volv­ing non-na­tion­als who were ei­ther per­pe­tra­tors or vic­tims of crime over the past few months.

Cit­i­zens warned to be vig­i­lant

Se­cret in­tel­li­gence re­ports com­piled by law en­force­ment agen­cies have ad­vised all arms of the pro­tec­tive ser­vices to be vig­i­lant of the ex­is­tence of mem­bers of the Venezue­lan gang Evande and their po­ten­tial threat to na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty here in Trinidad and To­ba­go.

The re­port al­so urged cit­i­zens to be­ware of their pub­lic sur­round­ings near their gro­ceries, homes, mar­kets and oth­er pub­lic ar­eas.

In­struc­tions were al­so giv­en to cross-ref­er­ence Venezue­lan na­tion­als who en­tered Trinidad and To­ba­go il­le­gal­ly with sev­er­al law en­force­ment agen­cies, in­clud­ing the as­sis­tance of In­ter­pol.

Crime in­volv­ing non-na­tion­als Jan-April 2019:

• Four Venezue­lans mur­dered

• Two Chi­nese men, one Venezue­lan woman and one Guyanese man charged in sex-ring bust

• Nine­teen fe­male non-na­tion­al mi­nors res­cued from hu­man traf­fick­ing ring

• Nine non-na­tion­als ar­rest­ed for pos­ses­sion of nar­cotics

• Five de­tainees es­caped the Im­mi­gra­tion De­ten­tion Cen­tre

• Po­lice res­cued four Venezue­lan women from a house at Diego Mar­tin

• Fifty-six Venezue­lans ar­rest­ed and charged for il­le­gal en­try

• Six Venezue­lan women at­tack po­lice


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