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300 lawmen in Laventille but driver slain
Even as 300 law enforcement officers were in the hills of Laventille in an anti-crime exercise yesterday, a 38-year-old taxi driver was murdered and his two passengers injured in a mid-morning shooting. In the exercise the police seized three illegal guns and a large quantity of ammunition and drugs. Senior officers said the operation was a success.
The raid, which involved 100 soldiers and 200 police officers from various divisions and units, began at 4 am and ended at midday. Almost six hours after the exercise began, Aasim LeMaitre, of Upper Francois Valley Road, Belmont, was plying his car for hire along Laventille Road, when on reaching Leau Place, two gunmen began to shoot at his vehicle.
Lemetre and his passengers—Anisha Ray, 20, of St Barb’s, Laventille and her 17-year-old sister Penika—were wounded in the shooting. After being shot, LeMaitre went unconscious and his car veered to the side of the road, crashing into a wall. Officers of the Port-of-Spain CID, led by ASP Ajith Persad, responded and took them to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.
Investigators said the team which was conducting the exercise was in another community in Laventille at the time of the shooting. Lemaitre was pronounced dead on arrival at the institution, while Anisha, who was shot in her back and chest, underwent emergency surgery.
Penika, a student at the Tranquility Government Secondary School, was grazed above the left eye. She was treated and discharged yesterday afternoon but Anisha remained warded in a critical condition. Investigators had not established a motive for the shooting up to late yesterday. With less than a day to the end of January, the murder toll for the year stood at 33 late yesterday.
Of the 33 murders, 15 took place in the Port-of-Spain Division. For the corresponding period last year the figure was 38. Police sources said the exercise was organised after a meeting between senior officers of the Port-of-Spain Division and the top brass of the Police Service on Monday afternoon.
The meeting, a source said, was held by acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams and DCP Mervyn Richardson in response to a recent upsurge in serious crimes and murders in Laventille and east Port-of-Spain. Other initiatives arising out of the meeting are expected to be implemented later this week and early next month.
Meanwhile, a total of 56 people were arrested for various offences during the exercise. While searching homes in the area yesterday, the lawmen recovered a Ruger rifle, a shotgun and a .45 calibre pistol as well as 87 rounds of assorted ammunition. They also seized an army camouflage uniform and helmet, ten kilos of marijuana and 100 grammes of cocaine.
The exercise was co-ordinated by Senior Superintendents Wayne Boyd and Carlton Alleyne. It was led by Insp Sahadeo Singh and included Cpls Charles Budrie and Sirju.
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