Police in T&T monitor WhatsApp gang video: Leaders show off arsenal

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(Trinidad Guardian) A video depicting known gang leaders, some of whom are in currently in jail, is engaging the attention of Criminal Gang and Intelligence Unit (CGIU) and the Strategic Services Agency — this country’s main surveillance unit, as they gather information on suspected criminals.

Police said last night that the video, which is being shared on WhatsApp, clearly identifies Rasta City gang leaders from Beetham Gardens, Sea Lots, Maloney, L’eau Place in Port-of-Spain, Maracas, Point Fortin and Caroni, among other areas.

A member of the Rasta City gang displaying his assault rifle.
A member of the Rasta City gang displaying his assault rifle.

Police said the video was used primarily as a recruiting tool to lure new members by giving the impression of a glorified life of crime.

In the video, gang members display a host of high-tech guns from their arsenal, including the Mach 10, Uzi, Tec-9, AK47 and AR15 rifles.

Gang warfare between the Rasta City gang and what police have labelled as the Muslim gang has claimed lives of scores of young men from major crime hot spots across the country.

Homicide Bureau officers said yesterday the war was mainly among young black men for control of drug turfs, Government contracts and the right to extort money from legitimate business people in exchange for protection.

Statistics from the Crime and Problem Analysis Unit of the Police Service have shown over the years that gang murders accounted for the majority of the people killed each year.

Between 2008, when there was a record high of 550 murders, and to date, close to 3,300 people have been murdered, with the detection rate well below the accepted standard.

Police admitted they have stepped up patrols in known crime hot spots, identified in the video and have been carrying out sweeping raids with “varied success.”

The extortion racket has grown over the years, particularly in central Trinidad, after a wave of kidnappings for ransom between 2002 and 2007 sparked fear and panic among members of the business community, police said.

One of latest causalities in the ongoing war was Selwyn “Robocop” Alexis, who police said controlled the Central region with the help of crooked cops.

Alexis, 52, was shot dead one month ago outside his Enterprise car wash and mini mart. Kevin Escayg, of San Juan, and Escayg’s four-year-old son were also shot in that incident.

The boy alone survived, while one of Alexis’ assailants, Thomas “Hamza” Sharpe, was also killed in the gunfire.

Suspects under watch

The video at the beginning identifies slain gang leader Merlin “Cudjoe” Allamby, 40, as the general of the Rasta City gang. Allamby was shot dead in July 2008 with two other people during an ambush in Aranguez, San Juan.

Unlike other videos of a similar nature, the men in the video made no attempt to conceal their identities.

Police said the men in the video appeared to be posing with authentic assault weapons in known locations in Trinidad, while other guns featured in the two-minute, 12-second video were taken off the Internet.

CGIU officers said yesterday the video first appeared last year and recently resurfaced. Officers said the people identified in the video by their aliases are being monitored and profiles are being built on them. They insisted, however, that the information being compiled was not sufficient to convict them for any crime.

A soundtrack accompanying the video describes methods of murder, including the dumping of bodies in Caroni. It also shows a decapitated corpse with what appears to be bullet wounds to the chest area. Police could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the body.

Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Stuart Young, who was provided with a copy of the video yesterday, said: “Material of this nature is obviously cause for concern. It has been passed onto the relevant authorities for verification/authentication and any investigation that is deemed to be necessary.”

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