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11 CHARGED

By Newsday Staff Monday, March 24 2014

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The 64-year-old brother of People’s National Movement (PNM) leadership candidate Pennelope Beckles-Robinson is among 11 persons charged for the possession of firearms and ammunition and who are expected to appear before an Arima magistrate today.

The accused include the 53-year-old wife of Beckles-Robinson’s brother, the couple’s son, 26, and the wife’s brother, 52.

Beckles-Robinson, the incumbent PNM Lady vice-chairman, personally announced the arrests of her relatives to supporters during a political meeting in Sangre Grande on Saturday night.

The charges against the 11 persons were laid yesterday by Sgt Haywood and PC Andrews of the Northern Division.

The charges came after Northern Division police, led by Insp Mark Maraj, including Sgt Haywood along with PCs Andrews and Abraham, raided the Malabar home of Beckles-Robinson’s relatives on Saturday and allegedly found four high-powered weapons along with an assortment of ammunition. Among the weapons seized were an AK-47 assault rifle, pump action shotgun, one .44 revolver and a .357 revolver. Each of the weapons carried six rounds of ammunition.

Officers also went to another house one street away, where they detained seven others in connection with the discovery of arms and ammunition. The arrests and seizures occurred at houses on Swift Lane and Cocrico Crescent in Phase III, Malabar.

Sources said when police officers arrived at one of the houses the suspects pointed to a wardrobe where the first two guns were found hidden among clothes. The other two guns were found on top of the wardrobe.

The arrest and seizures came after two months of police surveillance of persons suspected of providing guns to a Malabar gang who allegedly used the weapons against members of gangs in Carapo and La Horquetta in east Trinidad.

Police investigators are also exploring a possible link between the gun find and other incidents including a heist last November in which someone was killed. Yesterday senior police officers told Newsday that more arrests are expected in connection with the gun seizure.

Addressing supporters during a public meeting at Foster Road, Sangre Grande on Saturday night, Beckles-Robinson confirmed her eldest brother, his wife, son and her sister-in-law’s brother were among several persons arrested by police in connection with the possession of firearms and ammunition, earlier in the day.

Beckles-Robinson said she and other members of her family were distraught about the development. However she declared that when such incidents occur, “that is when one’s courage is tested” and hoped for a “proper and speedy” investigation.

Beckles-Robinson said she will allow due process to take place.

“I have faith in the judicial system and in criminal justice. I want the best investigation to take place. The police have to do their work,” she said amid loud applause from supporters.

Describing the incident as “unfortunate,” Beckles-Robinson said the arrests brought to the fore the fact that no one is insulated from crime and criminal activity.

“It can come home to any one of us and not a single person is immune from crime...Little did I know it would come at my front step,” she said, thanking supporters for their prayers and concern after news of the arrests had spread.

“I thank all of you for your tremendous support.”

Commenting yesterday on the police raid, National Security Minister Gary Griffith said it was important to remove illegal weapons off the streets.

“Within the last few months it (gun seizures) has been the highest amount and we intend to continue to operate like that... I intend to go very hard for us to extract these weapons from the streets,” he said.

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