A 14-year-old girl, who is believed to be a victim of human trafficking, was among 22 females detained at a ‘Secret Sunday’ pool party busted by officers of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) after midnight on Sunday.
They were found in a house at Chancellor Heights, Upper Lady Chancellor Road, St Ann’s in Port-of-Spain.
A 37-year-old woman from Westmoorings who is believed to be the main suspect was detained for questioning but was later released.
A Valsayn businessman and his son who were both detained in the raid are expected to be charged for the possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Both father and son, who were among the 20 men arrested, senior investigators told Guardian Media, had been formally charged in 2016 with similar offences which are still before the courts.
Police said most of the women had no identification on them and were engaged in lewd dancing, possible prostitution and child endangerment.
Just after midnight on Sunday, acting on intelligence, SORT officers conducted a sting operation at the house where the women along with 20 men were also arrested.
They were all taken to the St James Training Academy where they were up to late yesterday being interviewed by investigators.
The 14-year-old girl was handed over to the custody of the Children’s Authority and police say the women will be transferred to Immigration officials for processing and possible deportation.
Speaking with the Guardian Media on Monday afternoon, a close affiliate to the owner of the Chancellor Heights guest house, denied police’s claims that the establishment is “far from a brothel”.
“It’s a very reputable guesthouse in the area...one of the cheapest in town so it’s very highly recognised and popular,” he said.
Guardian Media was told that the business has been a part of the community for almost 30 years and caters for various private events including children’s birthday parties.
“When people book the place it’s for their own private use and management would not know all who will be attending and sometimes what actual kind of event it is and if there would be models or dancers...yes, the renters will be asked how much people are expected to come and the relations,” the affiliate said.
During a visit to the establishment, there was a dolphin pool floater still in the pool and bottles of alcoholic beverages poolside as well as the kitchen area.
Neighbours around didn’t say much as most of them said they didn’t see much either know much about the guest house and its operations.
Investigators said the house was not a guest house but rather a four-storey dwelling house.
It went on to state “Secret Sundays Latin EDM Private Pool Party.”
It advertised the party as one being held in a secret location with rum cocktails, and a place where “Secret Pleasures Await.” It also gave a What’s App number for interested persons to message for further information and location.
It ended by stating: “Make Sundays your Secret.”
Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith led the operations with officers of SORT, Port-of-Spain Task Force, Canine and Municipal Police.
Griffith was on the scene for several hours alongside the Counter-Trafficking, Child Protection and Victim and Witness Support Units of the TTPS, conducting enquiries to verify the ages of the young women found.
This is the fourth major bust for the year.
On February 5, a team of police officers from several specialist units, led by Griffith, raided private properties and businesses in Westmoorings, Woodbrook and Curepe.
During the raids, police rescued 19 Venezuelan teenagers who were between the ages of 15 and 19.
On April 11, just before midday, SORT officers together with officers of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad (AKS) and officers of the Western Division stormed a house described as a “fake police station” at Union Drive, Four Roads, Diego Martin and rescued four Venezuelan women all in their mid-20s who were being held captive there.
In July, during a late-night raid at a brothel in Cunupia, 12 Venezuelan women were detained, and three Jamaican, five Nepalese men and the owner of the establishment were arrested.
Story by MARK BASSANT and RHONDOR DOWLAT-ROSTANT