Caribbean News Round-up

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Huge haul of drugs stolen from Cayman Islands police station

File Photo
File Photo

[Caribbean360] – In an about-turn from previous statements, Cayman Islands Deputy Governor Franz Manderson has revealed that 24 kilos of cocaine and 33 kilos of ganja were stolen during a break-in at the George Town Police Station earlier this year.

Having originally denied that thieves had breached a container located in the station yard, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) management admitted that it was not an attempted break-in but a burglary.

According to the Cayman News Service (CNS), the quantity of drugs stolen was revealed following a parliamentary question from Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday.

The deputy governor admitted that 57 kilos of drugs had been taken, but no other items were missing as a result of the break-in.

The opposition leader said he was concerned that the RCIPS had taken the burglary “rather lightly” when it had been denied in the first instance but later exposed in the media.

“All that hiding has come to the fore and acceptance that this quantity of drugs was stolen … this is a tremendous amount of drugs that are consumed in our country,” Bush said. “What has been done about this? Has anyone been reprimanded?”

The opposition leader also noted that two local officers from the prison were sacked several years ago when drugs had been stolen there, but it seemed that no one had been held to account.

The deputy governor nevertheless maintained that the matter was being taken seriously and a full investigation was underway. Warrants had been issued, arrests made and exhibits seized, Manderson said, adding that the investigation was ongoing.

“But I have been assured by the top command, in particular the commissioner … this matter has been given top priority,” he added.

Bush went on to query how the incident could have happened, given that the container was in a secure area of the police compound.

Manderson responded that “a lot of the safeguards put in place to prevent this from happening didn’t work.” He pointed to a failure to destroy the drugs immediately after seizure, as well as alarm systems not working, which, he said, is being looked at.

“It’s a very serious incident. It’s an attack on the police and our security services,” he said.

Manderson said that he did not know who installed the security system, adding that the drugs had washed ashore and were not linked to a court case. They were supposed to be destroyed but he did not know how long they had been there, he told the Assembly.

Bernie Bush, another opposition member, questioned when action would be taken over “the catalogue of errors and mistakes that the commissioner of police has presided over, especially as in this case when he lied to the public about the missing drugs.

“The governor claims he is doing a good job. Is this a part of doing a good job?” he asked.

Manderson responded that the case was not finished and “we need the facts to come out to find out where the blame lies before anyone can take action.

“I think it is unfair to say the commissioner lied about the drugs not being stolen; that’s an operational decision when he gives out operational information.

“Sometimes you can’t tell the public everything they want to know,” he added.

 

Girl, 14, arrested for guns

File Photo
File Photo

[Trinidad Express] – A 14-year-old schoolgirl is among four persons who were arrested yesterday morning in Sangre Grande on enquiries for possession of illegal firearms.

The girl was at a relative’s home at Junction Road, off Goda Avenue, Sangre Grande, along with three other persons, when police executed a search warrant at the premises shortly after midnight and two loaded firearms were found.

Police said they seized a Glock .40 calibre pistol with 13 rounds of .40 ammunition, as well as a Beretta .38 pistol with eight rounds of ammunition.

A 32-year-old man, a 22-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman, who were at the home at the time, were also arrested.

Up to press time, the 14-year-old girl was still in the custody of the police.

 

Venezuela to buy stakes in Antigua oil company

Venezuela's President, Nicolas Maduro
Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro

[Caribbean360] – Venezuela’s state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA will buy a 25 per cent stake in Antigua and Barbuda’s West Indies Oil Company as the first of many “joint investments” between the countries, President Nicolás Maduro says.

Caracas will also establish a regional bank with the twin-island nation to fund several projects, including a new Simon Bolivar Resort Hotel. Funds for that will come from the Petrocaribe programme.

 

Maduro announced those plans in Antigua yesterday, on one of the stops in his tour of the Caribbean that also includes Suriname, St. Lucia and Grenada.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that he and Maduro “agreed to work in various areas of cooperation”. In Grenada, it was announced that Venezuela would fund the construction of a new eye clinic.

 

Jack Warner enjoying life

Jack Warner
Jack Warner

[Trinidad Express] – Former leader of the Independent Liberal (ILP) says he is enjoying life for the first time in 70 years and working on a book “In the belly of the beast” which he hopes to unveil in 2016.

Warner, founder of the ILP was appointed as an honorary member by the party’s executive which held its first meeting on October 10 under the new leadership of attorney Rekha Ramjit.

Speaking to the Express by phone, Warner said the leadership baton has been passed on to Ramjit and he hope that politicians today would also see that political parties do not belong to them.

“If more political leaders behave this way, this country will be a better place,” he said.

Warner, who said he was playing a card game of All Fours said he has put his political life behind him.

“I am enjoying life for the first time in 70 years,” he said adding that he was spending time with his loved ones and friends.

He also disclosed that he met with a team of University lecturers last week who will be assisting him in writing his book which will be about his life, more specifically about his time in politics with the United National Congress (UNC) and Government. He said there will be little about football.

Warner, a former FIFA Vice President is fighting extradition proceedings from the United States Department of Justice who have laid a number of charges against him arising out of his tenure at FIFA.

The ILP, was born in 2013 after Warner resigned from the UNC and the People’s Partnership.

In a release, Ramjit stated that the executive will be holding a retreat tentatively set for October 31 to conduct a post mortem of the September 7 General Election and to plan the way forward.

Some other decisions the executive took included the appointment of Danan Singh to the post of General Secretary; the appointment of Dominic Romain to the post of Chairman.

The Executive also agreed to commence a review of the party’s Constitution in preparation for a National Assembly to be held next year.

Rio de Janeiro buildings destroyed by suspected gas blast

rescue'[BBC] – An explosion has caused extensive damage in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

Dozens of buildings were damaged in the blast in the Sao Cristovao neighbourhood and at least seven people were injured, including a child.

Officials said they suspected a gas leak in a local business may have been the cause.

Rescue workers are searching the rubble, but so far have reported no deaths. People reported hearing the explosion as far as 6km (4 miles) away.

Local resident Marlene Sangy Aires told O Globo newspaper about the moment the blast happened.

“The roof caved in and my 21-year-old son managed to shield my 18-year-old daughter with his body,” she said.

“We were trapped in the rubble and used the light of our mobile phones to signal to the rescue workers. They found us and pulled us out.”

A nine-year-old girl was taken to hospital after having been buried underneath the rubble for three hours, her mother told Folha newspaper.

Emergency workers said some 40 buildings had been damaged.

 

5 killed in Colombia plane crash

crash[BBC] – A small plane crashed in the Colombian capital Bogota on Sunday killing five people.

The pilot and three passengers died when the plane came down in the Engativa neighbourhood.

The plane crashed into a bakery, setting it alight. One person inside was killed and seven others injured.

Officials said the reasons for the accident were still unknown. The plane was the third to crash in or near the capital in as many months.

A neighbour said she saw the twin-motor plane grazing a number of roofs before it got entangled in overhead power lines and crashed into the bakery. It had taken off minutes earlier from Bogota’s El Dorado airport and was heading to the nearby town of Guaymaral.

Members of Colombia’s Conservative Party said the plane was scheduled to pick up former president Andres Pastrana, former defence minister Marta Lucia Ramirez and ex-peace commissioner Camilo Gomez, but they were not on board at the time of the accident.

The politicians had hired the aircraft to take them to a campaign rally for Nancy Patricia Gutierrez, who is running for governor of Cundinamarca province in Sunday’s local elections.

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