Two suspected gang leaders from West Trinidad and Laventille, along with three other suspected gang members, were detained by police during a massive intelligence-led dragnet-styled operation yesterday.
The exercise, which was geared towards tackling the brazen upsurge of gang wars between the Muslims and the Rasta City gangs head-on, was spearheaded by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith and supported by elite units in the T&T Police Service (TTPS), Special Operations Response Team (SORT) and the Guard and Emergency Branch.
At about 11 am, Guardian Media was told an entourage of heavily armed police officers moved into Dan Kelly, off Picton Road, Laventille, in an area known as “Africa,” where they went into a house and confronted a person of interest. Police said the individual is directly linked to the Muslims gang and is responsible for the recent increasing shootings and murders in several areas, including East Port-of-Spain, Sea Lots and West Trinidad.
Earlier in the day, officers also went into the Diego Martin community where they also detained a well-known individual for questioning.
At about 1.30 pm, Griffith and his elite officers moved into Phase 5, Beetham Gardens, where they searched a house belonging to a suspected gang leader, who was not at home at the time. Up to press time, it was not confirmed whether or not police officers had seized anything from the house.
However, residents there were furious at the lockdown of the community and search of the house, claiming they were being harassed by police officers. One resident claimed two nights ago police entered the area and opened fire, shattering glass in a shop.
“The police are only coming here and harassing us. We are very upset because is here we living and they coming to intimidate us. They want to send us by our enemies for them to kill us,” the Beetham resident said.
He described some of the police officers as “bad boys,” claiming they were affiliated with gang members from the hills of Laventille.
“Why the police don’t go and stay on the hills where the shots firing from? Ent the gunshots will stop, but they coming here. They letting go a real assassin from the jail onto the streets and they coming to jumbie we…we not in no gang…we are a religion called the Rastafarian, also known as the Ethiopian Orthodox,” he added.
Meanwhile, the sister of the suspected gang leader from Dan Kelly told the Guardian Media that since her brother came out of jail recently the police had accused him of killing 12 people. She added that Griffith paid him visits several times, including yesterday, where she said he was whisked away and taken to the National Energy Skills Center (NESC) carpark where Griffith had a conversation with him. Up to press time, the sister said she did not know of her brother’s whereabouts.
“The police harassing him right through. Every crime happen they harassing him. Since he came out he has been trying to catch himself and put himself in order. It’s about five times the police come in here. I know the police have their work to do but is how they doing it,” the sister added.
The sister claimed her brother is not involved in any crime and gun violence and blamed a falling out within members of the community.
“Them fellas have a war among themselves and they doing all kind of thing to make it look like he doing something, but he not on that.”
A short while after the exercises ended yesterday, Griffith, via the TTPS’ communications unit, sent out a release saying he had, with immediate effect, raised the policing alert from “Amber” to “Red” as a result of ongoing gang activities and homicides.
He noted that “law-abiding citizens may experience some inconvenience due to these intensified operations, however, it is necessary to deal with criminal activity and to maintain law and order across the country.”
Persons with information pertaining to serious crimes, especially gang activities, are asked to text information to Griffith’s hotline 482-GARY (4279).