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Penny’s relative held in gun raid

By COREY CONNELLY Sunday, March 23 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Officers of the Northern Division Task Force look at the firearms and ammunition which they seized during an early morning exercise in Malabar, Phase ...
Officers of the Northern Division Task Force look at the firearms and ammunition which they seized during an early morning exercise in Malabar, Phase ...

A relative of People’s National Movement (PNM) leadership candidate, Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, was among 11 people arrested by police officers of the Northern Division Task Force during an exercise in Arima, early yesterday.

And in an immediate reaction, supporters of Beckles-Robinson are describing the development as “suspect” as the battle for the leadership of the PNM escalates. Beckles-Robinson is challenging incumbent Dr Keith Rowley for the position of political leader in the party’s May 18 internal election.

“Penny’s family are decent people. We are shocked that this has happened at this time,” one staunch Beckles-Robinson supporter told Sunday Newsday.

“Imagine, people in Dr Rowley’s camp knew about the incident before us and told our people. Now it is all over Facebook.”

Beckles-Robinson could not be reached for comment yesterday as she was said to be at the Santa Rosa, Arima, home, of her father, Lincoln Beckles.

“She was there consoling him,” one source said, adding that Beckles-Robinson was expected to speak comprehensively about the issue during a meeting at Foster Road, Sangre Grande, last night. PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley also could not be reached for comment.

The persons were arrested after police seized several high-powered firearms, including an AK 47 rifle, and a large quantity of ammunition at two separate houses in Malabar Phase 111, Arima. The firearms and ammunition were later shown to members of the media during a hastily-called news conference at the Arima Police Station yesterday.

Addressing the briefing, yesterday, Insp Mark Maharaj of the Northern Division Task Force told reporters shortly after 5 am, officers executed two search warrants at houses in Swift Lane and Cocrico Crescent, both of which are located in Malabar, Phase 111.

At Swift Lane, Maharaj said, officers seized one AK 47 rifle, a pump action shot gun, one .44 revolver and a 357 revolver. Each of the firearms carried six rounds of ammunition.

Flanked by the officers who participated in the exercise, Maharaj said four persons were held in connection with the discovery of the firearms and ammunition.

Sources later told Sunday Newsday that a relative of Beckles-Robinson was among the persons held in the incident. The relative, sources said, holds a senior position at a State-owned company.

The exercise was spearheaded by Snr Supt David Abraham, Ag Sgt Haywood, Cpl Sookhram, PCs Andrews, Edwards, Caraballo, Abraham and other officers visited the house on Swift Lane.

Maharaj said at Cocrico Crescent, police arrested seven persons after confiscating 37 rounds of ammunition. Ag Sgt Haywood and PC Andrews are continuing inquiries.

Andrews later told reporters the discovery of the firearms and ammunition was the result of months of surveillance.

“We believe that the persons are members of a gang operation that has been working together for months,” Andrews said. Another officer said members of the Northern Division Task Force seized 45 firearms for the year thus far.

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