If there’s a small upside to the runaway violence in Trinidad and Tobago in which murders have topped 300 in only 242 days this year, (read latest murder/suicide on page 5) it is that one such...
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Central Battle Zone
Trou Macaque, Laventille, resident Dylan Mason, 20, was shot dead by Central Division police during a shootout early yesterday morning in a reputed drug area, called “The Wall”, in Orange Field, Chase Village, Chaguanas. A police constable was also shot in the left arm in the process and had to be treated at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope.
The shootout occurred after police from the division’s Task Force, CID and Homicide Investigation departments went to Lion Drive, popularly called “The Wall”. around 4.30 am to execute a search warrant after several reports of shootings in the area last week. On Tuesday night, Paul Williams, of Edinburgh 500, was shot in the shoulder while sitting in his car on Mission Road, Freeport.
Yesterday Mason reportedly fired at the police as they approached a house in “The Wall”. The police fired back, hitting Mason. Mason and PC Rambarran were both taken to the Chaguanas Health Facility, where Mason was pronounced dead. Rambarran was referred to the EWMSC for further treatment. Five men were arrested, one in connection with the murder of Biche gardener Devanand Bholai on March 16 and the others in relation to several shootings in the Port-of-Spain area.
Two magazines, one with 30 rounds of ammunition, were seized. Last week, Antonio Swan, also wanted in connection with Bholai’s murder, was shot dead by Central Division police in Concerned Citizens Street, California. “The Wall” was almost deserted when the T&T Guardian visited the area yesterday morning. The area comprises two long brick walls, between 50 and 100 metres in length, and wide enough for one car to pass through, much like crime hot spots in Sea Lots and Beetham, Port-of-Spain.
At the end of “The Wall” is Lion’s Drive, a notorious crime hotspot on the Orange Field Road. The road leads to the 85-foot Hanuman murti, the Indian Caribbean Museum and the Temple in the Sea, Central tourist attractions. Some residents said they heard gunshots during the night and were now terrified to walk the streets after dark. The T&T Guardian was told a group of women were praying while shots were being fired Tuesday night, reportedly by rival gangs.
“They disbanded their weekly prayer meetings because they are afraid to leave their houses,” a resident said. Well-placed sources said “The Wall” is one of several drugs blocks in Orange Field, including Wyabi Roopsingh Road, Brickfield, near the Kali Temple; Bholai Trace East and in the Orange Valley, Carli Bay, area. “Drugs are brought from the sea and up river, from Felicity right down to Carli Bay, which has the only sand beach along this part of the west coast,” the source said.
A series of interconnected roads in the area provide an advantage for criminals, many of whom are seen in Muslim wear and going to the mosque. Criminals from Port-of-Spain migrate to the area when things are hot in the north and continue their illicit activities, the source said. In Temple Street, a series of squatters’ huts dot an isolated area near the forest. The area is a reputed criminal hideout.
The source said one criminal in Orange Field dug a moat around his house and filled it with water to ward off the police. Law-abiding citizens, who are frequently robbed, have erected high electric fences. Citing some instances of break-ins, he said: “About $50,000 in materials the Water and Sewerage Authority placed near Mungal Street for a project was stolen. “They stole the steel for the construction of a church and broke the wall of a resident’s house with a sledgehammer.”
Teenage pregnancies and drug addiction were common in the area, he said.