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Monday 24 September 2018
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GANG LEADERS HELD AT HYATT

Two gang leaders hiding out at the exclusive Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain were arrested yesterday morning by police under the anti-gang legislation.

The two men ages 36 and 31, along with a 22-year-old woman checked into the hotel on Tuesday and stored large sums of cash and jewelry in safes provided in the hotel room suites.

The men reportedly were staying on a day to day basis and paid US$250 (TT$1,600) per day.

The men lived a life of luxury, with several women visiting them, both day and night, and feasting nightly for dinner.

They paid for the hotel rooms in US currency, and even ordered in food and champagne from some of the finest restaurants in and around Port-of-Spain.

Police reportedly received information that the men who are leaders of a Port-of-Spain gang with a large membership, and with regional and international ties in drugs and gun smuggling, fled the area after the state of emergency was announced on Sunday night.

It remained unclear where they went, but on Tuesday the two turned up at the Hyatt hotel where they rented suites 1620 and 2001 on the 16th Floor of the five star hotel.

They rented the rooms in the name of the 31-year-old man, who is not as well known as his 36-year-old accomplice.

Hotel employees claimed the men were visited both day and night by different women believed to be call-girls, who accompanied them to the poolside and shared buffet dinners with the two men.

They wore expensive clothing and adorned themselves with thick gold chains, rings, and other pieces of jewelry. Several sources at the hotel also revealed the men were seen talking endlessly on their cell-phones in the hotel lobby during the day and night.

The cell-phones of the men were checked after they were arrested, and officers discovered that the men had conversations with other notorious gang leaders, and international drug runners and gun smugglers.

According to reports, officers of the Port-of-Spain CID, led by Snr Supt Glen Hackett, and including Snr Supt John Martinez of the Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU), received information that the two men were hiding out at the hotel.

Yesterday at about 11.30 am, a party of officers led by ASP Kenrick Edwards, and including Sgt Mervyn Edwards, Cpl Andy Wallace, PC Noble Smith and others, went to the hotel where they saw the two gang leaders and a woman in the lobby of the hotel.

Officers kept the trio under surveillance and later followed them to the 16th Floor, where they were nabbed.

According to reports, officers found a safe in the room belonging to the 31-year-old man containing $15,000 in cash and a quantity of jewelry.

The three suspects were taken to the Port-of-Spain CID, where they were placed in custody, and the items seized were later handed over to the wives of the two men.

Officers told Newsday that although the men were held under the anti-gang legislation, the police were not in a position to keep as evidence any of the valuables seized during the arrest. Newsday understands that the two men are wanted for a series of gang-related murders, and are to be placed on identification parades over the weekend, while it remained unclear what charges will be laid against the woman.

However, her association with the gang leaders may result in her also being charged under the anti-gang legislation.

Several employees of the Hyatt hotel told Newsday yesterday they were unaware that the two men were gang leaders, and expressed surprise that crime had reached such a stage where gang leaders were now hiding out at luxury hotels to escape the long arm of the law.

They described the police activity at the hotel yesterday as being well organised, and added that it did not hamper the smooth running of activities at the hotel.

When Newsday contacted Russel George, general manager of the Hyatt Regency on the arrest of the two gang leaders and the woman, he said, “That is a police matter and I cannot comment on that.”

He refused to divulge any further information.

However, Newsday understands that George held an emergency meeting with several of his senior staff to discuss the police activity at the hotel, but it remained unclear if any background checks are being made for local persons making bookings at the hotel in light of the arrest of the three yesterday. Up to late yesterday the three were still being questioned at the Port-of-Spain CID.

Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs said at the national security media briefing at Temple Court, Port-of-Spain that he was not informed of the arrest.

“We have many operations going on throughout Trinidad and Tobago, and if there was something at the Hyatt, I haven’t received anything, hard copy on that,” Gibbs said.

He was however briefed following the media conference by his senior officers on the arrest of the three.

Also yesterday, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, speaking at that same media briefing, said, “We are unable to disclose the exact locations where we are in fact penetrating, and picking up gang leaders, but as I indicated before, they are not exactly confined to the plannings, and some of the areas that you see the media parading before the viewing public, and it is definitely not consistent and very difficult to reconcile with the perception that we are not going after the big men, we are only going after the small men.”

Government sources told Newsday that with the arrest of the two men, they may be able to solve a number of gang-related murders, and even infiltrate a booming drug and gun smuggling ring taking place in Trinidad and Tobago.

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