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A DSS receipt received during registration in Tobago..

Seven people who have been arrested and charged during the Drugs Sou Sou (DSS) Tobago registration process at Shepherd’s Inn, Store Bay Local Road, Crown Point, will appear before a Scarborough Magistrate Court on Monday, October 19.

According to a police report, they were arrested for allegedly breaching the Public Health Ordinance Regulation, related to social distancing.

Janine Collins, 36, a waitress, of St Augustine; Naomi Alexander, 21, a student, of Government Trace, Tobago; Shevonne Hartell, 37, a manager, of Top Hill, Pembroke, Tobago; Mia Charles, 31, self-employed, of Robert Street, Bon Accord, Tobago; Anthony Caesar, 33, lifeguard, of Charlotteville, Tobago; Jennifer Latoch, 47, self-employed, of Cottage Street, Golden Lane; and Kwesi Beckles, 42, labourer, were arrested and charged, a TTPS’s news release said.

The release said when the police arrived at the scene at 9 am, the crowd was told they were breaching the Public Health Ordinance Regulations; while some obeyed, those who refused were arrested.

Guardian Media understands that from as early as midnight on Friday, people began lining up at Shepherds Inn hoping to be first in line to register for DSS Tobago.

Cars lined the street for over one mile, and people huddled in groups, under buildings on either side of the road. Others were in the inn, awaiting their turn to be called, as numbered chits were issued to those trying to register.

Heavily armed police officers were at the entrance of the property.

Registration began at 9 am.

An hour and a half into registration, police arrested the seven people for breaching COVID-19 social distancing regulations and dispersed the crowd as they too were breaking the Public Health Ordinance. Under the ordinance, more than ten people cannot gather in one place.

Guardian Media had a very brief exchange with DSS’s Kerron “Prezze” Clarke at the inn’s entrance. Asked how the morning’s operations were proceeding, he said, ” It was very good.”

Asked if it was as good as last weekend’s operations in Tobago, he said, “Last week, we just pass through, but this is the formal launch.”

He declined to answer further questions.

Guardian Media also spoke to a young lady from Crown Point. She had “invested five hands of $3,500 each,” she said

“I would have invested more, but you could only do five hands at a time, and after that, you have to go to the back of the line,” she said.

She also said when she got to the inn at 2 am there, were approximately 100 people in the line. She left at 11:30 am.

A sou-sou hand takes one-28 business days, according to a receipt given to those who registered.

It also stated, “Please understand the risk you are getting yourself into. This is a non-refundable transaction. A stacking method is utilised for placement of individuals.

Please allow the passing of 72 hours for your name to be added to the chat.”

Speaking at a post-budget forum on Thursday in Belmont, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley labelled DSS as a “cancer that will eat the soul of the nation.”

He said Government was seeking help from the UK and Barbados police to investigate the $22 million seized and returned to DSS La Horquetta by police, last month.