Police reported that at about 10.30 am, the woman who is a street vendor came to the Court and Process Branch and told officers that she had brought a pair of sneakers to be given to her relative, to wear to go to court.
Acting Sgt Learie Mitchelle, the officer in charge at the time, told the woman to hold on as other police officers were busy preparing prisoners to be taken to the nearby Sangre Grande Magistrates’ Court.
While the woman was waiting, Mitchelle observed her fidgeting and sweating profusely. He then asked the woman to open a plastic bag which contained the pair of black and blue suede sneakers with stitched soles. Mitchelle noticed a strange bulge in the soles of the sneakers and called other officers to examine it.
In the woman’s presence, Sgt Mitchelle took a knife and cut open the soles of the sneakers. Hidden inside each shoe were two cellular phones while a small bag of marijuana was also hidden in the right shoe.
The woman, when questioned about the phones remained silent and was subsequently cautioned by Sgt Mitchelle and escorted to the charge room at the front of the police station where she was charged with possession of marijuana and interfering with a prisoner.
Police sources said they are awaiting instructions from the Office of the DPP on whether or not additional charges could be laid. Police later confirmed that the pair of shoes was destined for one of two men who are charged with kidnapping and murdering a woman earlier this year.
The woman who was charged by Sgt Mitchelle will appear before a Sangre Grande Magistrate on Monday. While replying to a question raised by the Opposition, Senator Joseph on Tuesday in the Senate said that the illicit cellular phones were seized from prisons cells over the past five years. Joseph blamed corrupt prisons officers for smuggling in the phones, a charge confirmed by sources within the prisons who said prisons officers were paid as much as $1,500 by inmates, to smuggle in the cellular phones.
Police sources said that with these cellular phones, gang leaders serving time or on remand, can control their gangs and even order “hits”, while behind bars.
Police officers said that this was the first time a member of the public was caught trying to smuggle in cellular phones and as a result, officers will be paying special attention to all items including clothing, toiletries, books and other items members of the public bring to police stations, courts and the prisons to be given to prisoners.