A Venezuelan migrant, who was caught with a bullet hidden in his personal religious object, has been sentenced to two months in prison with hard labour.
Alexander Adrian Tinoco Senclar received the sentence as he pleaded guilty to ammunition possession before Magistrate Rehanna Hosein in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court yesterday afternoon.
Senclar, who recently arrived in Trinidad, was arrested early yesterday morning while queuing with hundreds of his compatriots, who were seeking to take advantage of the Government’s continuing migrant registration and amnesty process at the Queen’s Park Oval in Woodbrook.
According to the evidence presented before Sinclair was sentenced, police search his wallet and found one round of 9mm ammunition hidden in a red pouch.
Speaking with the assistance of the court’s Spanish translator, Senclar explained that the pouch and its contents were a gift from his brother to ward off evil spirits.
Senclar claimed that the “spirit guard” was part of the Maria Lionza cult, which is one of the most widespread religions in Venezuela. The faith blends African, indigenous and Catholic beliefs.
Senclar also claimed that he was not aware that the item would be considered illegal in T&T.
Police prosecutor Sgt Azard Ali asked for a prison sentence for Senclar as he pointed out that the offence was serious and far too prevalent.
In passing the sentence, Hosein said that ignorance of this country’s laws was not an excuse and that Senclar that he should have enquired before he brought the item.
Even if Senclar had registered before his arrest, he would still be deported after he completes his sentence as the Government has stated that migrants suspected of or convicted of criminal offences would not benefit from the amnesty.