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UPDATE: Two arrested after military weapons, drugs seized

By Trinidad Guardian

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(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — AR-15s, Dra­co AK-47s and MAC 11s—all mil­i­tary-type weapons—were among a cache of high-pow­ered ri­fles and drugs found at an apart­ment be­long­ing to a well-known busi­ness­man yes­ter­day morn­ing.

This was one of two ma­jor busts in­volv­ing the seizure of arms and drugs oc­cur­ring in less than 24 hours in Cen­tral, East and North Trinidad.

In Cen­tral, po­lice al­so found and seized am­mu­ni­tion/mag­a­zines and over 100 pack­ets of com­pressed mar­i­jua­na val­ued in ex­cess of $1 mil­lion. Po­lice al­so im­pound­ed a Hyundai Elantra, li­censed PDN 6409.

The weapons, which are said to be brand new and be­lieved to have been smug­gled in­to the coun­try from Venezuela via the Ca­roni Riv­er, can be sold on the streets from as much as $35,000 to $50,000.

The AR-15s car­ry 5.6 am­mu­ni­tion; the Dra­co AK47 us­es 7.62 am­mu­ni­tion while the Mac-11 us­es .380 am­mu­ni­tion. Po­lice al­so found sev­er­al rounds of as­sort­ed am­mu­ni­tion.

Two men, one of whom was de­scribed by po­lice as a well-known per­son of in­ter­est, were in the apart­ment at the time the of­fi­cers raid­ed it. Both men are as­sist­ing po­lice in their in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The ex­er­cise, co­or­di­nat­ed by Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith, was con­duct­ed be­tween Thurs­day night and 11.20 am yes­ter­day and in­volved of­fi­cers of the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Re­sponse Team, Strate­gic Ser­vices Agency and the Ca­nine Unit.

Ac­cord­ing to a T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) re­lease, the of­fi­cers act­ed on in­tel­li­gence gath­ered over the past 18 months. The T&T Guardian was told that af­ter gath­er­ing ini­tial in­tel­li­gence in the case, of­fi­cers searched a house at War­ren Road, just off Munroe Road, three months ago.

On Thurs­day, the of­fi­cers went to an apart­ment com­plex off Macaya Trace, Munroe Road, Cunu­pia, where they searched one of six apart­ments. Ac­cord­ing to sources, it is be­lieved the drugs were smug­gled in­to the coun­try by a ma­jor trans-ship­ment op­er­a­tion ring in­volv­ing Venezue­lans and lo­cals.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said they are ex­pect­ed to view sur­veil­lance footage cap­tured by CCTV cam­eras on the prop­er­ty in an at­tempt to get more in­for­ma­tion on those fre­quent­ing the apart­ment and hous­ing the il­le­gal items there.

Speak­ing with the T&T Guardian yes­ter­day, neigh­bours, who wished not to be iden­ti­fied, said they were shocked at the find­ings at the apart­ment but said they were not sur­prised as the area was plagued with drugs and guns.

One neigh­bour said he strong­ly be­lieved many of the items that en­tered the Munroe Road area were smug­gled via the Cunu­pia Riv­er, which bor­ders Macaya Trace and flows in­to the Ca­roni Riv­er.

An­oth­er res­i­dent said he no­ticed strange ac­tiv­i­ties at the apart­ment build­ing a few nights ago.

“I no­ticed peo­ple off-load­ing bar­rels and suit­cas­es and large cro­cus bags…maybe that is what the po­lice found in the apart­ment. At one time, I feel as though I saw some­one hold­ing a big gun too but I thought my eyes were play­ing tricks on me,” he said.

“This is so fright­en­ing but I guess we may nev­er know who is be­hind that…most of these prop­er­ties are owned by busi­ness peo­ple and it could eas­i­ly be palmed off on ten­ants and the own­ers will say they don’t know what hap­pens there when they are not around.”

Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith said the weapons seized were “in­dica­tive of the type of fire­pow­er which crim­i­nals now have at their dis­pos­al in Trinidad and To­ba­go.”

He said this was the con­text un­der which po­lice of­fi­cers need­ed to de­fend them­selves.

Grif­fith com­mend­ed the of­fi­cers in­volved in the op­er­a­tion for their hard work and ded­i­ca­tion to du­ty. He al­so thanked the pub­lic for pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion which aid­ed in the suc­cess of the op­er­a­tion.

In a si­mul­ta­ne­ous ex­er­cise, which was done from Thurs­day night in­to ear­ly yes­ter­day, of­fi­cers of the East­ern Di­vi­sion Task Force found 68 pack­ets of mar­i­jua­na val­ued ap­prox­i­mate­ly $.5 mil­lion.

The of­fi­cers act­ed on in­for­ma­tion re­ceived and went to Caigual Road, San­gre Chiq­ui­to, where they searched a bushy area. The of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing mem­bers from the Va­len­cia and San­gre Grande CID, found the pack­ets of mar­i­jua­na hid­den in four white con­tain­ers. Po­lice said the drugs weighed 46.2 kilo­grammes. Po­lice al­so found a bul­let­proof vest. No one was ar­rest­ed.

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