Cops find 14-year-old in lewd party bust

A 14-year-old girl, who is be­lieved to be a vic­tim of hu­man traf­fick­ing, was among 22 fe­males de­tained at a ‘Se­cret Sun­day’ pool par­ty bust­ed by of­fi­cers of the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Re­sponse Team (SORT) af­ter mid­night on Sun­day.

They were found in a house at Chan­cel­lor Heights, Up­per La­dy Chan­cel­lor Road, St Ann’s in Port-of-Spain.

Nine­teen of them are said to be Venezue­lan na­tion­als.

A 37-year-old woman from West­moor­ings who is be­lieved to be the main sus­pect was de­tained for ques­tion­ing but was lat­er re­leased.

A Val­sayn busi­ness­man and his son who were both de­tained in the raid are ex­pect­ed to be charged for the pos­ses­sion of a firearm and am­mu­ni­tion.

Both fa­ther and son, who were among the 20 men ar­rest­ed, se­nior in­ves­ti­ga­tors told Guardian Me­dia, had been for­mal­ly charged in 2016 with sim­i­lar of­fences which are still be­fore the courts.

A re­volver was found on the scene of the raid to­geth­er with nar­cotics and a large amount of cash.

Po­lice said most of the women had no iden­ti­fi­ca­tion on them and were en­gaged in lewd danc­ing, pos­si­ble pros­ti­tu­tion and child en­dan­ger­ment.

Just af­ter mid­night on Sun­day, act­ing on in­tel­li­gence, SORT of­fi­cers con­duct­ed a sting op­er­a­tion at the house where the women along with 20 men were al­so ar­rest­ed.

They were all tak­en to the St James Train­ing Acad­e­my where they were up to late yes­ter­day be­ing in­ter­viewed by in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

The 14-year-old girl was hand­ed over to the cus­tody of the Chil­dren’s Au­thor­i­ty and po­lice say the women will be trans­ferred to Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials for pro­cess­ing and pos­si­ble de­por­ta­tion.

Speak­ing with the Guardian Me­dia on Mon­day af­ter­noon, a close af­fil­i­ate to the own­er of the Chan­cel­lor Heights guest house, de­nied po­lice’s claims that the es­tab­lish­ment is “far from a broth­el”.

“It’s a very rep­utable guest­house in the area...one of the cheap­est in town so it’s very high­ly recog­nised and pop­u­lar,” he said.

Guardian Me­dia was told that the busi­ness has been a part of the com­mu­ni­ty for al­most 30 years and caters for var­i­ous pri­vate events in­clud­ing chil­dren’s birth­day par­ties.

“When peo­ple book the place it’s for their own pri­vate use and man­age­ment would not know all who will be at­tend­ing and some­times what ac­tu­al kind of event it is and if there would be mod­els or dancers...yes, the renters will be asked how much peo­ple are ex­pect­ed to come and the re­la­tions,” the af­fil­i­ate said.

Dur­ing a vis­it to the es­tab­lish­ment, there was a dol­phin pool floater still in the pool and bot­tles of al­co­holic bev­er­ages pool­side as well as the kitchen area.

Neigh­bours around didn’t say much as most of them said they didn’t see much ei­ther know much about the guest house and its op­er­a­tions.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said the house was not a guest house but rather a four-storey dwelling house.

“They had no liquor li­cense but they were sell­ing al­co­hol on the premis­es and charg­ing peo­ple to come in­to the house $60. They al­so did not have any fire clear­ance. We have noth­ing of­fi­cial to say its a guest house ei­ther,” a se­nior in­ves­ti­ga­tor told the Guardian Me­dia.
Guardian Me­dia un­der­stands that an ad­ver­tise­ment was is­sued ti­tled, “Can you keep a se­cret?”

It went on to state “Se­cret Sun­days Latin EDM Pri­vate Pool Par­ty.”

It ad­ver­tised the par­ty as one be­ing held in a se­cret lo­ca­tion with rum cock­tails, and a place where “Se­cret Plea­sures Await.” It al­so gave a What’s App num­ber for in­ter­est­ed per­sons to mes­sage for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion and lo­ca­tion.

It end­ed by stat­ing: “Make Sun­days your Se­cret.”

Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice, Gary Grif­fith led the op­er­a­tions with of­fi­cers of SORT, Port-of-Spain Task Force, Ca­nine and Mu­nic­i­pal Po­lice.

Grif­fith was on the scene for sev­er­al hours along­side the Counter-Traf­fick­ing, Child Pro­tec­tion and Vic­tim and Wit­ness Sup­port Units of the TTPS, con­duct­ing en­quiries to ver­i­fy the ages of the young women found.

This is the fourth ma­jor bust for the year.

On Feb­ru­ary 5, a team of po­lice of­fi­cers from sev­er­al spe­cial­ist units, led by Grif­fith, raid­ed pri­vate prop­er­ties and busi­ness­es in West­moor­in­gs, Wood­brook and Curepe.

Dur­ing the raids, po­lice res­cued 19 Venezue­lan teenagers who were be­tween the ages of 15 and 19.

On April 11, just be­fore mid­day, SORT of­fi­cers to­geth­er with of­fi­cers of the An­ti-Kid­nap­ping Squad (AKS) and of­fi­cers of the West­ern Di­vi­sion stormed a house de­scribed as a “fake po­lice sta­tion” at Union Dri­ve, Four Roads, Diego Mar­tin and res­cued four Venezue­lan women all in their mid-20s who were be­ing held cap­tive there.

In Ju­ly, dur­ing a late-night raid at a broth­el in Cunu­pia, 12 Venezue­lan women were de­tained, and three Ja­maican, five Nepalese men and the own­er of the es­tab­lish­ment were ar­rest­ed.

Snr Supt Ramdeen and act­ing In­sp McGurk are spear­head­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

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Story by MARK BASSANT and RHONDOR DOWLAT-ROSTANT

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