Days after a large cache of guns and ammunition were discovered at the Bond at the Piarco International Airport, police officers uncovered yet another large cache of guns and ammunition hidden inside a washing machine and a dryer at a warehouse in Couva on Monday.
According to a police report, around 9 pm on Sunday intelligence was received by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) which suggested that a package (cargo) containing household appliances – a washer and a dryer – was imported into Trinidad and the consignee on the package was identified.
According to the police, its intelligence suggested that this shipment was housed at Medway Limited, a customs warehouse situated off the Southern Main Road, McBean, Couva. The said items entered the country sometime around the end of February.
Police said on April 7 the consignee appeared at the warehouse location to take delivery of the items but before the cargo was brought out for examination, he left the warehouse without explanation and to date hasn’t returned.
The items were subsequently returned to storage.
The SIU acting on additional intelligence and in collaboration with the Central Gang Intelligence Team and in conjunction with the Customs and Excise Division commenced an operation to identify the items contained in the package.
On Monday morning personnel from the SIU proceeded to the Medway Warehouse located at Forsis Complex, where the package containing the washer and dryer was retrieved and an examination conducted.
The following items were discovered concealed in both items:
1. 200 rounds of 7.62mm wolf performance brand.
2. 150 rounds of 9mm black blazer brand.
3. 20 boxes of pure hemp big bambi brand.
4. 20 boxes of wrapping paper big bambi brand.
5. 6 black 9 mm ammunition drums
6. 3 black 5.56 mm ammunition drums
7. 700 rounds of .45 cal ammo Centerfire brand
8. 60 rounds of 5.56 mm ammo. American eagle brand.
9.1 MAGPUL assault rifle with scope
10. 3 black 5.56mm magazines
11. 4 pistols each with 1 magazine.
12. 2 brown coloured “rouni” attachments with scopes, which turns any pistol into an automatic firing weapon
13. 10 boxes of .40cal ammo. 50 rounds per box
14. 6 .40 calibre extended mags
15. 50 rounds of 9 mm hollow point.
When Guardian Media visited the scene at Medway Limited’s Public Off Doc Warehousing Facility housed at Forsis Complex yesterday, members of their security personnel assigned told the media to leave.
Operations at the facility proceeded as normal as people were seen in and out of the business place. Forklift operators were busy moving packages in and out of the loading bays.
The building is owned by Central Pastor and businessman Winston Cuffie but is believed to have been leased to the owner of Medway Limited for many years. Attempts to get a reaction from Cuffie about the illegal find and raid proved futile.
Jacob: Guns, ammo part of illicit transnational trade
The eye-opening discoveries over the past few days have raised concerns and fears among citizens that something terrible is about to happen in the country, for example, a coup, however, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mc Donald Jacob said there’s no intelligence to prove such.
Speaking to the Guardian Media, Jacob said, “We have no such developments from our intelligence at all.”
He, however, assured that there is, in fact, a significant demand for guns in the Transnational Trade in Guns.
“Because you may pay TT$2,000 and could sell for TT$15,000 to TT$18,000…so it could be a significant trade but in a few weeks time we’ll be able to say more as our intelligence is working on it but we don’t have anything so far to say that something like that (referring to a coup) is developing,” Jacob said.
Jacob proudly added that the success has been the establishment of a Central Intelligence Bureau, “Where we have the different units working together with our international partners and we are getting the success that’s required.”
He added,” Before we were depending on just taking the firearms off the streets in searches and stop and search and now that our intelligence apparatus has developed we will have a greater impact in making that dent in the Transnational Network.”
Commendation for law enforcement
In a release, The T&T Manufacturers’ Association commended the Customs and Excise Division on the recent seizures of contraband for April.
In response to the seizures, TTMA’s President Tricia Coosal said, “Such seizures justify the TTMA’s concerns that illicit trade is a threat to all facets of T&T, including the lives of the citizens, and the economy of this twin-island Republic”.
“The TTMA firmly believes that these seizures give credibility to the Government’s focus on tackling illicit trade, including the creation of the Anti-Illicit Trade Task Force by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. In addition to seizing arms and ammunition, members of the manufacturing sector hope that this Task Force would contribute significantly to the reduction of the prevalence of illicit trade in items such as alcohol, cleaning items, pharmaceuticals, and tobacco products,” the release stated.
“Additionally, these seizures justify the need for the Government (to continue) to assiduously tackle illicit trade,” it added.
The TTMA added that successful prosecution of the persons involved can act as a deterrent to the importers (consignees) and the facilitators of illicit trade.
“The successful seizure by Customs, in addition to a robust investigation by the TTPS, and a well-executed prosecution by the Government, all contribute to significantly reducing illicit trade,” the release stated.