Reputed Trinidad gang leader still getting state contracts

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Reputed Trinidad gang leader still getting state contracts
Ken­neth “Span­ish” Ro­driguez
Ken­neth “Span­ish” Ro­driguez

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) – The same man, Ken­neth “Span­ish” Ro­driguez, who was re­ferred to as a “known gang leader” in the In­ter­im Re­port from the Joint Se­lect Com­mit­tee (JSC) on Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty is still re­ceiv­ing lu­cra­tive Gov­ern­ment con­tracts from the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ro­driguez re­cent­ly chal­lenged the term “gang­ster” be­ing as­so­ci­at­ed with his name and the chair­man of the East Port-of-Spain De­vel­op­ment Com­pa­ny has al­so said that Ro­driguez was nev­er charged with gang-re­lat­ed of­fences.

In the JSC re­port, Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Stu­art Young crit­i­cised for­mer Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (HDC) man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, now deputy po­lit­i­cal leader of the Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress (UNC) Jear­lean John for al­leged­ly award­ing a State con­tract to Ro­driguez for work on the Dun­can Street po­lice post.

John has since de­nied that claim, say­ing that the con­tract was nev­er award­ed to Ro­driguez but was award­ed to a con­struc­tion com­pa­ny lo­cat­ed in Ch­agua­nas.

Chair­man of the East Port-of-Spain De­vel­op­ment Com­pa­ny, New­man George in an in­ter­view on Wednes­day, con­firmed that Ro­driguez re­ceived at least two con­tracts through that State com­pa­ny.

“His com­pa­ny, RI­CO De­vel­op­ment Com­pa­ny Ltd is cur­rent­ly com­plet­ing a project in John Trace and has been re­tained for the la­trine erad­i­ca­tion pro­gramme,” George said.

The La­trine Erad­i­ca­tion Pro­gramme seeks to con­struct toi­let fa­cil­i­ties in pri­vate homes in East Port-of-Spain and there­fore re­move the need for out­hous­es. George said that there are cur­rent­ly 39 con­trac­tors on that pro­gramme and some con­trac­tors get one or two toi­lets to con­struct while oth­ers may get as many as four con­tracts. Each con­tract is ap­prox­i­mate­ly $50,000.

“You have to un­der­stand that these ar­eas are fair­ly dif­fi­cult to work in un­less you are from the area,” he said.

He said to en­sure that gang­sters and known crim­i­nals do not ben­e­fit from these State con­tracts, the East PoS De­vel­op­ment Com­pa­ny does a strin­gent com­pa­ny search where any per­son con­vict­ed of a crim­i­nal of­fence is not em­ployed.

He said that even though Ro­driguez was ar­rest­ed, he was nev­er charged with any gang-re­lat­ed ac­tiv­i­ties.

“His charges were small drug of­fences, there is no rea­son to omit him from the process,” George said.

“Un­der the pro­cure­ment leg­is­la­tion, a drug of­fence is not suf­fi­cient to elim­i­nate a con­trac­tor,” George said.

In the JSC re­port, Young said that the TTPS pro­vid­ed in­for­ma­tion to the Min­is­ter by way of a re­port that the John had been linked to “par­tic­u­lar in­di­vid­u­als, as­so­ci­at­ed with a crim­i­nal fac­tion in Trinidad and To­ba­go.”

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, John was ob­served in at­ten­dance with “a per­son of in­ter­est dressed in a yel­low t-shirt at po­lit­i­cal meet­ings, or­gan­ised by the par­ty”.

Young said that “the in­di­vid­ual,” re­fer­ring to Ro­driguez, “is a per­son of in­ter­est to the po­lice due to his af­fil­i­a­tions and his al­leged in­volve­ment in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Guardian Me­dia al­so reached out to Ro­driguez on Tues­day and he promised to meet and dis­cuss his new con­tracts. How­ev­er, he did not re­spond to sub­se­quent calls.

Ro­driguez did call in­to a morn­ing show on 104.7 ear­li­er in the week and laid out his com­plaints against the be­ing la­belled a gang­ster for work un­der the UNC, while still get­ting con­tracts un­der the PNM.

“I built four toi­lets for this Gov­ern­ment for $200,000. I do a road­way and box drain for a mil­lion some­thing,” he said on the ra­dio sta­tion.

“Right now I do­ing a re­tain­ing wall for a mil­lion some­thing,” he said.

“Who is a gang­ster? Where your in­for­ma­tion for gang­ster busi­ness, you Mr Stu­art Young, you po­lit­i­cal ba­by,” Ro­driguez said.

Guardian Me­dia mes­saged and called Young be­tween Wednes­day and Fri­day and even though he saw the What­sapp mes­sages, he did not re­spond.

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