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Venezuela’s Evander gang leader El Cu­lon arrested in Trinidad and Tobago

By Mark Bassant

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El Cu­lon

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — A man known as “El Cu­lon,” who on­ly re­cent­ly as­sumed lead­er­ship of the Evan­der gang, was one of eight Venezue­lans in a group of nine peo­ple ar­rest­ed on Sun­day in a po­lice ex­er­cise at two hous­es along War­den Road, Point Fortin.

All the Venezue­lan sus­pects, among them two women and a 15-year-old girl, were charged with re­sid­ing in T&T il­le­gal­ly and pos­ses­sion of arms and am­mu­ni­tion. A 28-year-old Trinida­di­an fish­er­man al­so in the group was charged in con­nec­tion with the weapons seizure. Po­lice ar­rest­ed six peo­ple in the first house and three in the sec­ond house.

“El Cu­lon,” along with the Trinida­di­an, are con­sid­ered mas­ter­minds in a string of kid­nap­pings, drug traf­fick­ing, gun run­ning and hu­man traf­fick­ing cas­es.

Se­nior T&T po­lice sources told Guardian Me­dia that “El Cu­lon” is want­ed by Venezue­lan au­thor­i­ties for a litany of cross-bor­der crimes. Po­lice sources said their in­for­ma­tion al­so sug­gests that the Trinida­di­an has helped fa­cil­i­tate the il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties of the Evan­der gang in Trinidad.

Sev­er­al weeks ago in an ex­clu­sive re­port, Guardian Me­dia re­vealed that lo­cal law en­force­ment had raised con­cerns in in­tel­li­gence re­ports about the Evan­der gang and oth­er no­to­ri­ous Venezue­lan gangs in­fil­trat­ing this coun­try. There was al­so cred­i­ble ev­i­dence to sug­gest that the state of Delta Amacuro, in which the city of Tu­cu­pi­ta is lo­cat­ed, was a base from which traf­fick­ers ped­dle con­tra­band in­to Trinidad.

A Venezue­lan source said one month ago the gang’s leader, Evan­der Bar­ral­las and oth­er no­to­ri­ous mem­bers of the gang, in­clud­ing “El Cu­lon,” were in­volved in a shootout with Venezue­lan po­lice in Tu­cu­pi­ta. Dur­ing that shootout, Bar­ral­las was killed and “El Cu­lon” es­caped with gun­shot wounds.

“When we held him (“El Cu­lon”) he had two bul­let wounds to his stom­ach that was still heal­ing,” a se­nior source close to the Trinidad in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed to Guardian Me­dia.

How­ev­er, the se­nior po­lice source said they were hav­ing prob­lems speak­ing to the men and need­ed to get the ser­vices of an in­ter­preter.

“I know that of­fi­cers of the Or­gan­ised Crime and In­tel­li­gence Unit are sup­posed to in­ter­view them but we def­i­nite­ly need to get the ser­vices of an in­ter­preter be­cause of the lan­guage bar­ri­er. So far they have not been charged with any­thing.”

A me­dia re­lease from the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice on Sun­day’s ex­er­cise in Point Fortin made no men­tion of the no­to­ri­ous Venezue­lan gang leader. In­stead, po­lice in­di­cat­ed that South West­ern Di­vi­son of­fi­cers had held eight Venezue­lans and one Trinida­di­an at two sep­a­rate hous­es. They said they al­so re­cov­ered two pis­tols and nine rounds of am­mu­ni­tion at the homes. The re­lease added that dur­ing the ex­er­cise, of­fi­cers al­so re­ceived in­for­ma­tion that led them to a forest­ed area along the Cap-De-Ville Main Road where they found two AR-15 ri­fles wrapped in black plas­tic with two mag­a­zines and 64 rounds of 5.56mm am­mu­ni­tion.

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