A man known as “El Culon,” who only recently assumed leadership of the Evander gang, was one of eight Venezuelans in a group of nine people arrested on Sunday in a police exercise at two houses along Warden Road, Point Fortin.
All the Venezuelan suspects, among them two women and a 15-year-old girl, were charged with residing in T&T illegally and possession of arms and ammunition. A 28-year-old Trinidadian fisherman also in the group was charged in connection with the weapons seizure. Police arrested six people in the first house and three in the second house.
“El Culon,” along with the Trinidadian, are considered masterminds in a string of kidnappings, drug trafficking, gun running and human trafficking cases.
Senior T&T police sources told Guardian Media that “El Culon” is wanted by Venezuelan authorities for a litany of cross-border crimes. Police sources said their information also suggests that the Trinidadian has helped facilitate the illegal activities of the Evander gang in Trinidad.
Several weeks ago in an exclusive report, Guardian Media revealed that local law enforcement had raised concerns in intelligence reports about the Evander gang and other notorious Venezuelan gangs infiltrating this country. There was also credible evidence to suggest that the state of Delta Amacuro, in which the city of Tucupita is located, was a base from which traffickers peddle contraband into Trinidad.
A Venezuelan source said one month ago the gang’s leader, Evander Barrallas and other notorious members of the gang, including “El Culon,” were involved in a shootout with Venezuelan police in Tucupita. During that shootout, Barrallas was killed and “El Culon” escaped with gunshot wounds.
“When we held him (“El Culon”) he had two bullet wounds to his stomach that was still healing,” a senior source close to the Trinidad investigation revealed to Guardian Media.
However, the senior police source said they were having problems speaking to the men and needed to get the services of an interpreter.
“I know that officers of the Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit are supposed to interview them but we definitely need to get the services of an interpreter because of the language barrier. So far they have not been charged with anything.”
A media release from the T&T Police Service on Sunday’s exercise in Point Fortin made no mention of the notorious Venezuelan gang leader. Instead, police indicated that South Western Divison officers had held eight Venezuelans and one Trinidadian at two separate houses. They said they also recovered two pistols and nine rounds of ammunition at the homes. The release added that during the exercise, officers also received information that led them to a forested area along the Cap-De-Ville Main Road where they found two AR-15 rifles wrapped in black plastic with two magazines and 64 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition.