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(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — A house that was left abandoned six weeks ago in Las Cuevas, close to where Vaughn “Sandman” Mieres, 44, lived and was killed last Thursday, along with his wife and two bodyguards, was burnt flat on Saturday.
However, whilst fire officials are not yet ruling out arson, police said they believe the fire was not directly linked to Mieres’ murder.
The police, however, added that the house belonged to relatives of a man who is related to the main suspect in Mieres’ case. That suspect is still in police custody.
Police said San Juan firefighters responded to a house fire call at Hotel Road, St Michael’s Village, Las Cuevas at about 7 am yesterday. However, by the time the fire appliances got there the house was already destroyed.
The last persons to occupy the house were a man and a woman who left the area approximately six weeks ago. The reasons as to why they left were not known, as was whether they were the owners of the house.
A fire official said they found only a stove and a microwave in the house and added that both access doors were opened when they arrived. He said there was no suspected cause as yet.
Gang war over sea turf was one of the motives believed to be behind Thursday’s killings of Mieres, his wife Alika “Letty” Dehere and two others at his Las Cuevas home. Mieres lived in a split-level house on a hill overlooking the coastal waters of the north coast and Las Cuevas bay. Guardian Media was told by villagers that 15 gunmen in total ambushed Mieres, his family and guards around 2.15 am. The gunmen, villagers said, surrounded the house and there were 30 minutes of continued gunfire from high-powered rifles.
Mieres, 44, was known to the police for drugs and gun smuggling along the north coast and carried out operations in several areas, including La Fillette, Malick, Bourg Mulatresse, San Juan, Santa Cruz, Barataria, Las Cuevas, Maraval and Valley Road. He also had associates in Beetham and Port-of-Spain.
Another theory is that the killings were linked to an incident in June, where there was an attempt on the lives of two of Mieres’ children.
Police said they received information that Mieres found out who was the mastermind involved in that attack and was planning an act of “deadly revenge.”
On June 12, gunmen opened fire on a vehicle transporting two of Mieres’ children along Belmont Circular Road, near the Providence Girls’ Catholic School, a short distance away from the Belmont Police Station. The driver of the van, James Gordon, of Maracas, was shot but managed to escape by running away. Three students were treated for injuries and mental trauma after the drive-by shooting. Two of the injured children, aged six and 15, were identified as Mieres’ children while an 18-year-old student was shot in her leg.
But a close associate of Mieres, who was liming on the block near Mieres’ house on Thursday, said a man stood on the corner and watched everything. He even called two names, one of whom is in police custody. The person in custody, the associate said, left Mieres’ side about five years ago following an argument.
“Do not bite the hands that feed you and that’s what he did…he came back with another man we know and some people from somewhere on that side because they want to come here and take over his boats…why would Sandman be linked to the theft of boats and engines in Orange Valley. He not on them thing. He have lots of boats right here…but is sea turf now them fellas fighting for,” the associate claimed.
“They said he was involved in drugs and guns but I never see that. Just recently I went across to Tobago with him with 2,500 pounds of fish and that’s what he did. He was a fisherman and fish vendor.”
The acquaintance would only say that Mieres decided to change his life about five years ago.
“You see when you decide to change your life there’s always an unguarded moment and there it was the unguarded moment. We had no guns to fight back because we are now peaceful people. Sandman kept the peace here for years and he was everybody’s Godfather.”
The associate said Mieres was accused of being behind the July 19 drive-by shooting in Maraval where Ian Sharpe and Keon Timothy were killed while liming near a basketball court along Morne Coco Road.
“They say that Maraval was linked to the Belmont shooting where his kids escaped and that he was the one behind the drive-by. That same night police took Sandman in custody and then released him and then come back two days after for him but then they let him go again. He was peaceful. He troubled no one. In fact, he had forgotten about that shooting and had put it behind him,” the associate said.
Fishermen at the fishing depot, when approached by Guardian Media, remained very tight-lipped about Thursday’s incident.
One of them said: “We mind our own business around here…we see nothing and hear nothing.”
Another fisherman said most of the fish bins belonged to Mieres but he too would not say much.
The fisherman, however, lamented over the derelict condition of the facilities for over 40 years.