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Cops thwart diesel smugglers again (with CNC3 video)
A routine police patrol in La Brea unearthed a million-dollar diesel racket at Station Beach, where the suspects were caught red-handed, loading filled containers of the fuel onto a pirogue on Thursday night.
Police said one of the suspects is believed to be a 28-year-old Point Fortin man who was arrested last year for his involvement in illegal diesel bunkering in Claxton Bay. The man had appeared at the San Fernando Magistrates Court but was released on bail.
Yesterday, Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs officials were at the La Brea police post examining a white Kia van and maroon Nissan Almera loaded with 44 five-gallon containers of the gas. They also seized a 28-foot pirogue, registered as TFS 2196 TOP Sweet 2.
Under instructions from Sgt Raymond Johnson, PCs Andrews and Plaza were patrolling the seafront Thursday when they saw four men loading the containers onto the pirogue. The police tried to surprise the men, but they ran off into the bush. Police seized the boat’s Yamaha engine so no one could use it.
Ministry officials believe the men were putting their second load of diesel onto the pirogue for transport to a ship lying offshore when the police discovered them. They said the Coast Guard was not notified until yesterday and an offshore search was launched for any vessels that were illegally bunkering fuel.
Last September, Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs Kevin Ramnarine said the Government would be waging a war on illegal diesel bunkering after numerous reports of the offence. However, ministry officials yesterday admitted it was a tough task, as there were numerous undesignated ports around the country.
Last October, a 27-year-old man and his 18-year-old accomplice were detained for attempting to smuggle diesel out of the country via Claxton Bay. The men were caught pumping the fuel from a 40-foot container onto a vessel docked in nearby waters and concealed by mangroves.
A week earlier, Toco police found a truck with two 1,000-gallon tanks of diesel which were hidden in a large pile of rubble. A large rubber hose was connected to the truck, which led to several large tanks of diesel which were buried on the beach.
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