Police: Gangs recruiting teens to hide weapons, drugs

Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 10:30

Police are closely monitoring a disturbing trend whereby gangs are recruiting teenagers to conceal their illegal weapons and narcotics.

The trend was revealed by acting Superintendent Gary Edwards, of the Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit (OCIU) while speaking at the weekly police press briefing at the Police Administration Building, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

Edwards said, “A trend has been noted whereby members of several organised criminal groups are using persons without criminal records, especially teenagers, to keep their illegal items for them.”

He went on: “Even though there may be some monetary reward, the money offered can not compensate for the time spent in jail and embarrassment suffered by one’s family.”

Asked what can be done by parents, whose children may be susceptible to being recruited, Edwards suggested that close family relationships are vital in preventing such activity from occurring.

“Parents should communicate with their children constantly to notice any changes in behaviour. They should speak to their children and find out whether they can properly guide them,” Edwards said.

He said he could not say how many teenagers and minors were currently being monitored by his unit over being involved in gang activity in T&T.

During the press conference, Edwards boasted about the performance of his unit, which was established in September, last year, through the integration of the Criminal Gang and Intelligence Unit and the Organised Crime, Narcotics and Firearms Bureau (OCNFB).

“I would say that it has been pretty impressive. The two units combined and we shared resources and intelligence data, which led to at least 10 priority offenders being arrested,” Edwards said.

In addition to assisting other police units in the recapture of escaped prisoners Vicky Boodram and Hamilton Small, Edwards also claimed that OCIU was instrumental in the persons being charged and money being recovered following a $5 million robbery at the Piarco International Airport in December, last year.

Edwards said that since the unit was established it has seized 333 kilos of cocaine, 129 of which was recovered between January and March, this year. In terms of marijuana, 285 kilos were seized between September, last year, and February, this year.

Nine assorted firearms were recovered by the unit during the period.

Edwards also revealed that the entire T&T Police Service had registered a 1,062 per cent increase in cocaine seizures and a 136 per cent increase in marijuana seizures for the first two months of this year compared to the same period, last year.

The was a minor decrease in firearm seizures for the same comparative period with 170 firearms being seized in January and February, last year, compared to 169, this year.

“The OCIU continues to advise members of the wider public that in order to create a better society, all and sundry need to contribute to crime prevention and detection,” Edwards said. Members of the public who wish to report information to the unit can contact it at 623-6207.