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Trinidad: Abandoned home of Sandman suspect’s relative torched

By TRINIDAD GUARDIAN

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Police officers at the home of Vaughn “Sandman” Mieres in Las Cuevas on Thursday, hours after Mieres, his wife and two guards were slain.

(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.

Vaughn Mieres

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.

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