Caribbean News Round-up


Trini family gets 418 years in jail in NY

The Family
The Family

[Trinidad Express] – A couple and their daughter, originally from Trinidad, have been jailed in the United States for a total of 418 years, for conning 19 Caribbean immigrants out of more than $1.8 million.

In a sentence handed down by a court in Queens, New York on Wednesday, Shane Ramsundar, 52, wife Gomatee, 48, and daughter Stantal, 23, were described by the judge as “the most despicable gang of criminals to ever sit in front of me.”

“You and I know that if you did this fraud and paraded and strutted around in front of your own people, in your own country, you probably would have all been hacked to death,” Holder told the family, which hails from Trinidad. “But not in this country. Now it’s your time to hear your return on your investment for your crime,” the judge said.

Shane Ramsundar received the maximum 235-year sentence. His wife was sentenced to 153 years and daughter 30 years.

The three were found guilty last November of grand larceny.

Prosecutors said that Shane Ramsundar told immigrants that he could get their names or terror watch lists, or prevent their deportation by getting then green cards.

Assistant District Attorney Catherine Kane said: “They stole from their own, people afraid of reporting to the police, terrified of being deported back to a place where they had no one to go home to”.

One of the victims was an immigrant suffering with multiple sclerosis who gave the family $43,000 after being told by the family of con artists that at he was about to be deported.

Ramsundar also fooled immigrants into believing that he could get them cheap housing.

Prosecutors said that the family used some of the money to buy cars, expensive hand bags, a $2,700 Yorkie dog and go on shopping sprees.
Jack Warner to step down


Jack Warner
Jack Warner

[Trinidad Express] – Jack Warner the founder of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) is set to resign as the Leader of the Party.

See below a full statement from Warner.

The National Executive (NATEX) of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) met last night at the office of the former Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West, Caroni Savannah Road, Charlieville, along with the party’s 2015 General Election candidates.

Overwhelmingly, all the candidates who fought in the 2015 General Election attended the meeting and reaffirmed their commitment to the ILP as well as their commitment for the Party to continue to be a voice for the national community and an active force in the politics of Trinidad and Tobago, exercising vigilance on the public’s behalf.

Further, the National Executive was advised by the Political Leader, Mr Jack Warner, of his irrevocable decision to pass on the mantle of leadership of the party as part of the succession planning of the ILP. Mr Warner stated that the ILP must be a vehicle for the emergence of new political blood and talent, especially from the youth membership of the party.

To this end, the National Executive accepted Mr Warner’s irrevocable decision to step down from the post of Political Leader of the ILP in 30 days. Consequently the ILP membership will elect a new Political Leader on Saturday, October 10, 2015. All bona fide members of the ILP will be invited to participate in this election, both in terms of nomination of candidates for the position of Political Leader and in voting for the candidate of their choice.

Details of the availability of nomination documents, nomination deadline and the procedure and hours of voting will be announced shortly in accordance with the Constitution of the ILP.

Former PM to challenge T&T election results

Rowley-Kamla_w504PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – The coalition People’s Partnership late Wednesday announced that it would be mounting a legal challenge to the results of Monday’s general election which it lost to the People’s National Movement (PNM).

In a statement, the coalition, comprising the United National Congress (UNC), the Congress of the People (COP), the Tobago Organization of the People (COP) and the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) said that it had received legal advice in its change to the results.

The PNM won 23 of the 41 seats that were at stake in Monday’s general election with the coalition, which had won 29 seats in 2010, only able to win 18.

The coalition said it was challenging the results based on the unilateral decision of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to extend the voting period by one hour due to the inclement weather on the rules which govern a general election are quite clear. Strict adherence to these rules is absolutely necessary to minimize and avoid irregularities. Failure to do so will result in allegations and perceptions of unfairness and favouritism.

“Information and data received by the party strongly suggested that the People’s Partnership was comfortably ahead in the polls at 6:00 pm. The march to victory adversely affected by the sudden unilateral decision by the EBC to extend hours of the poll from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm,” the coalition said.  It said that the “EBC cannot and should not change the rules of engagement without giving proper notice to candidates, political parties and voters.

“We have received reports that citizens were unable to cast their vote at certain polling stations because the officials of the EBC were themselves unaware or uncertain about the decision to extend the time of voting until 7pm. Additionally, many citizens were unaware of this extension of time and hence did not cast their vote.”

The coalition said that Rule 27 (1) of the election rules “is quite clear” noting that “the taking of the poll at each polling station shall be between 6 0’clock in the morning and 6 o’clock in the afternoon of the same day.
“Any suspension or adjournment must be based on fair and adequate prior public notice to ensure there is a level playing field. Thus, the poll could have been adjourned to the following day to facilitate those who were unable to cast their vote for good reason. This has in fact happened in the past.”

The coalition said that it had been advised that the “decision by the EBC to give an extra hour undermines the legal framework which governed the conduct of the general election and was tantamount of the shifting of the political goal post at the end of the game.
“This might have very well affected the integrity of the process and the results in critical constituencies.

“This is a serious and important violation of the spirit and intention of the Constitution, the Representation of the People’s Act and the election rules. We will therefore file these election’s petitions to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and justice is done.”

But former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, speaking on television here on Wednesday night, said the coalition would face an uphill task in getting a court to rule in its favour.
He described the move as vexatious and not likely to be tolerated by the court. Meanwhile, the UNC said its executive had passed a resolution expressing “collective and full support for KamlaPersadBissessar to continue as political leader as the party”.
The term of Persad-Bissessar who had ousted the party’s founder Basdeo Panday in 2010, ended in 2013 and that of the rest of the executive a year later.
Air and sea operation snags US$2.5M in drugs in the Bahamas

bahamas-drugsNASSAU, Bahamas — A joint task force from Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) seized 2,842 pounds of marijuana with an estimated wholesale value of over $2.5 million during three separate law enforcement operations in the Bahamas this past weekend.

The OPBAT task force was comprised of officers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) and the Bahamas Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU), a division of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF).

Over three separate nights, OAM aircrews observed suspicious go-fast vessels transiting waters in the southeast Bahamas and the law enforcement officials made the drug bust.

In addition to the narcotics seized, two smuggling vessels and a vehicle were taken into custody, and six suspected smugglers were arrested.

The seized go-fast vessels and contraband were eventually escorted to Nassau, Bahamas, for further processing.

“In the maritime environment, we operate efficiently and effectively with a variety of federal, state and local partners including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard,” said CBP’s Miami Air and Marine Branch Director William Gibbon.

“Our experienced agents in South Florida are diligently supporting an array of border security and maritime law enforcement efforts.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge, A.D. Wright, said OPBAT was able to adapt to the ever changing tactics of narcotics traffickers.

“Our continued cooperative efforts with the governments of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands as well as the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Department of State to deny traffickers the ability to operate effectively in the Bahamas has left an undeniable footprint in the overall strategy to combat the flow of narcotics,” Wright said.

OPBAT is a combined DEA, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Government of Bahamas partnership to combat drug smuggling to and from the Bahamas.

The OPBAT Operations Center in Nassau is responsible for initiating and prosecuting law enforcement cases in the Bahamian area of responsibility (AOR). In addition, OPBAT assets regularly assist with prosecuting human smuggling and search and rescue cases throughout the AOR.

U.S. Coast Guard OPBAT Director, Commander Mark Driver, said the strong partnership between the U.S. and Bahamian forces creates a potent deterrent to criminal activity and has resulted in the seizure of over 45 tons of narcotics since October last year



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