Twenty-two people, including several fishermen, were detained during an intelligence-led operation called “Golden Tombstone” by joint National Security forces in the wee hours of Thursday morning.
High-powered weapons and ammunition were also seized.
The total lockdown of the northern coastal area came 21 days after Vaughn “Sandman” Mieres, his wife and two of his bodyguards were killed in Mieres’ house. Guardian Media understands that members of the Customs and Excise Division, T&T Defence Force, T&T Police Service (including the Canine Unit) and T&T Coast Guard carried out extensive searches on land and sea, including Maracas, La Fillette and Las Cuevas villages.
Over 50 homes were searched.
The exercise, supervised by ACP (Ag.) Forde and Snr. Supt. (Ag.) Phillip was conducted between 1 am and 9 am.
An undisclosed quantity of ammunition and high powered weapons were found and seized including one Mac 10 pistol loaded with 20 rounds of ammunition, one shotgun along with nine 12 gauge cartridges and one bulletproof vest.
The law enforcement officers also had the assistance of air surveillance via three drones controlled by Air Support Unit.
Five of the 22 people who were arrested including a 15-year-old boy were held in connection with Tuesday’s drive-by shooting in Maraval where Shaquille “Papa” Eugene was killed.
The boy’s mother, who is a security officer at the Las Cuevas Beach Facility said that her son and Eugene were friends and added that Eugene frequented Las Cuevas. “I can’t understand why they would pick up my son, who is a minor just so...they did not even contact me. My son was at his aunt’s house at 2 am when the police pick him up. I just hope they have him separate from the big men they pick up too, “ the teen’s mother said.
However, residents questioned how the law enforcement personnel came into the area and their homes making them wonder who really came into the area on the morning of July 25 when Mieres was killed. More than one resident claimed that days before Mieres was killed they noticed police and army allegedly carrying out surveillance in the area “round-the-clock.”
A 73-year-old man said: “it was so similar and so close to what we heard that morning...gunshots were firing off in the air and small explosions going off around us...I don’t have a problem with the police coming in here but they break down my door to my home and barged in not even saying who they are. Them could be anybody.”
Another woman said the officers left her 80-year-old mother traumatised.
Detainees were taken to the Morvant and Barataria police stations.
Reacting to the comments made by residents about the raid, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith said there have been over 15 homicides linked to conflicts and reprisals between gangs that have a base in the area. He said, “one would expect that this should be their major concern.” Griffith added, “if anyone had a concern of abuse of authority they can report it to the PCA.”
Up to press time charges were yet to be laid against those held.