The country awoke to the news on Thursday of the execution of a notorious crime kingpin who controlled a swathe of North Trinidad spreading from Las Cuevas to Maracas Valley with an army of enforcers staking claim to a sizeable portion of arms and drug trade.
His killing was one of seven people murdered in 12 hours between Wednesday night and early yesterday taking the murder count to 308 in 206 days.
Angry Sea Lots residents react to police officers following the shooting death of Akini “Dole” Adams yesterday.
By early evening, the tension in another crime hotspot threatened to unhinge as Sea Lots residents openly opposed police officers who had shot and killed notorious drug runner and Rasta City gang lieutenant Akini “Dole” Adams and injured another.
The two gang leaders were among 100 people who were detained last week by police after a spike in gang-related murders and public pressure on the Police Service and the Government to take decisive action.
Senior police sources told Guardian Media last night that Adams was linked to the gun attack at Las Cuevas and one of the boats stolen from Carli Bay fishermen was used to escape.
Vaughn “Sandman” Mieres was able to operate for over two decades and take over turf of rival gangs with the help of corrupt police officers and a village beholden to him.
Police intelligence reports linked him to the execution of several people and a network of criminals in Venezuela and Colombia.
Undertakers remove the bodies of the murdered victims Vaughn ‘Sandman’ Mieres and his wife from their home in Las Cuevas n Thursday.
His fortress at the top of Hernandez Trace was impenetrable to his enemies and he surrounded himself with an army of protectors, some of them involved in law enforcement.
The escape was even more intriguing as the killers fled in two vehicles, a station wagon and an SUV, heading to St Michael’s Village—a dead-end road—torched the getaway vehicles, near the Las Cuevas Health Centre before scurrying down a track to a secluded bay and escaped in a waiting pirogue.
Camouflage clothing, masks and other items were found strewn along the trail and a pattern of footprints, resembling military-style boots were found on the shore.
The hit squad comprising between six to eight men, armed with assault rifles, approached the fortified house from two vantage points around 2.15 am.
The steep hill leading to the only entrance to the building snakes around two sharp corners which meet a towering steel gate.
Investigators told Guardian Media that the assault team pounded on the gate saying they were police. One resident claimed that there was a blue flashing light near the entrance.
The moment the gate was opened by one of Mieres’ henchmen, Nigel ‘Blood’ Octim, he was shot several times.
Another assault team climbed hilly terrain and sneaked into the compound, killing another henchman who was still apparently asleep in a hammock at the back of the house.
Sandman & wife Letty
Just how the killers entered the house, which has steel doors, was unclear. Police believe the gang climbed to the verandah and entered the upper storey to the house through an open door and barged into the children’s bedroom.
The children fled into their parents’ bedroom and they all ran to the ground floor with gunmen in pursuit. Mieres, 44, was cornered in a bedroom and tried to hide under the bed. His wife, Alika “Letty” Dehere hid in a walk-in closet and called the police.
The attackers shot Mieres multiple times in the chest and head. Half of his skull was blown off, according to photos shared of the crime scene on WhatsApp.
Police confirmed they heard gunshots as Dehere begged for assistance. She was shot repeatedly and was found slouched in one corner of the closet.
The children—a 16-year-old girl and four-year-old boy—were taken to the kitchen area and forced to lie on the ground as their parents were murdered.
A close relative of Mieres told Guardian Media that Mieres was an ailing diabetic and was recently diagnosed with stage four cancer.
This area was one of routes used by the killers.
By dawn, information began to spread via WhatsApp on the quadruple killing. After sunrise, the name of the suspect emerged as well as the motive for the crime.
Police identified a man by the alias, Shorto, as the mastermind behind the crime and linked him to the June 12, gun attack on a vehicle transporting two of Mieres’ children along Belmont Circular Road, near Providence Girls’ Catholic School, a short distance away from the Belmont Police Station.
The driver of the van transporting the children, James Gordon, of Maracas, was also shot but managed to escape by running away.
The burnt vehicles at Las Cuevas yesterday following the murder of Vaughn ‘Sandman’ Mieres at his home. Picture Anisto Alves
Shorto, a former affiliate of the Maracas Bay gang, lead by Mieres, who at one point resided at the house, was reportedly shot in friendly-fire during the mayhem.
Police said the injured man was dropped off at the St James Medical Centre and later taken to Port-of-Spain General Hospital where he remains warded under police guard.
The recovery of two more bodies of fishermen who were forced overboard in the Gulf of Paria on Tuesday and the shooting death of a Diego Martin man, identified as Nicholas Lee, were the other murders.