The Galil rifle that went missing from the T&T Defence Force’s headquarters at Teteron Barracks in Chaguaramas last Saturday, was recovered by law enforcement officers in the Macqueripe area yesterday.
Two individuals, including a soldier, have also been detained and are expected to face charges in connection with the matter.
Before yesterday’s finding, some five days had passed since the army-issued assault rifle was reported missing from the Support and Service Battalion of the T&T Regiment.
According to law enforcement sources, the rifle and its magazine were found in a plastic bag in bushes. However, the condition of the weapon was not disclosed up to last evening.
Speaking at a media conference at the Ministry of National Security’s Temple Court, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain headquarters yesterday, acting National Security Minister Marvin Gonzales said, “Upon the discovery of the missing weapon, a number of operations were conducted in collaboration between all arms of national security over the last couple of days. At 1 pm today (Friday), the Galil assault rifle, together with the magazine, was discovered in the Macqueripe area as a result of a tip passed to the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, working in collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.”
He added, “I also wish to report to the national community that two persons remain in police custody in relation to the criminal investigation and the police are expecting to lay charges against two individuals, including a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, in connection with the missing weapon.”
The Ministry of National Security had offered a reward of $75,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the disappearance of the assault rifle.
But Gonzales noted, “The person did not identify themselves, nor did they request any reward for the information that was provided to the national security services.”
He further explained, “The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, along with their support services, will continue to conduct a thorough investigation, including fingerprinting and all other necessary procedures, to determine the origin and potential use of the firearm. At this point in time, we do not have any further information to share regarding whether the firearm was used in any criminal activities against the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.”
The operation to locate the assault weapon was led by intelligence units of the T&T Police Service and Defence Force.
Acting Commander of the T&T Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Ashook Ali, who was also at the media conference, revealed that measures are now being implemented to prevent such incidents from occurring again.
“I would like to inform you that the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment has robust standing operating procedures and regulations regarding the use, storage and management of weapons and ammunition. As part of this robust system, a board of inquiry has been convened to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the circumstances that led to this unusual occurrence and prevent its recurrence,” he said.
Guardian Media understands that the investigators have submitted files to the Director of Public Prosecutions for instructions on what charges to pursue against the two suspects.