The three friends planned a vacation trip to the South American country and intend to spend three months. However, as they passed through Venezuelan Customs, immigration officials noticed a discrepancy with their tickets. While the group informed Immigration that they intend to stay for three months, the tickets stated the trip was for four months. They are due to return home on May 20.
The tickets were booked with Navarro’s Travel Agency. When Newsday contacted the agency yesterday, an agent said he could not say how the mix up of dates on the tickets occurred. He promised to have a senior agent contact Newsday, but that call never came.
According to immigration protocol, once discrepancies are noted in travel documents, Passports are seized while the matter was being investigated.
Trini Reagan des Vignes, a news anchor and correspondent with TeleSUR English in Venezuela, who has been in constant contact with the trio – Blair Cameron, a marketing consultant; audio producer Joshua Reuben and rap artiste Stefon Toussaint – since the incident, said a security guard was given the three TT passports to hold. However, that guard decided to try and make some extra money by extortion, demanding that Cameron, Reuben and Toussaint pay him US$100 each for their Passports.
The group refused and reported the matter to airport officials. The Trini nationals remained overnight in an immigration departure room.
Des Vignes contacted the Trinidad and Tobago Embassy in Caracas yesterday in an attempt to rectify the situation. TT Embassy officials spoke with Venezuelan immigration and the matter of the wrong dates on the tickets, was rectified.
However, the trio was told they could not leave until a Judge arrives and witnesses their testimony against the security guard.
Des Vignes said the trio was treated well. He said the TT Embassy paid for their meals and they were allowed bathroom breaks when needed. And to add to their harrowing experiencing, there was a blackout at the airport at 7 am yesterday, which lasted about five minutes. The trio decided to make a run and in the process dropped a bag. An official informed them they needed to return to where they were being kept under guard, for their own safety.
When they returned, the dropped bag was gone. Among items in the bag were GoPro (mini camera), a studio microphone, a streaming device, a lamp and a pair of shoes (Vans), all worth over $10,000. There were also two MacBook chargers valued $10,000.
“Josh is an audio producer and wanted to keep his equipment with him as he assumed he would have been inspired by the local music here,” des Vignes said.
The judge arrived just before 4 pm yesterday and Reuben was the first to be interviewed. He spent about an hour and a half being questioned. Cameron and Toussaint were then called in to join Reuben.
They were all allowed to leave after they gave their statements. The trio are still determined to go on their vacation, although it seems they have decided not to stay in Caracas, but has opted to look for a more tranquil area.
In 2014, five TT men — Dominic Pitilal, Wade Charles, Asim Luqman, Andre Battersby and Leslie Daisley — were detained in Venezuela since March 2014 on terrorism activity charges. They had gone to Caracas to seek visas for Hajj and spent almost two years in a Caracas prison before being released last year.