A cocaine shipment with an estimated street value close to TT$40 million, which was destined for Trinidad and Tobago, was intercepted by members of the Cuerpo de Investigaciones Cientificas Penales Y Criminalistics (CICPC) in Venezuela yesterday. The drugs were hidden in secret compartments of luxurious cars which were travelling in a caravan at the time.
CICPIC is Venezuela’s largest police agency responsible for criminal investigations and forensic services.
On his Twitter account, CICPC director Douglas Rico tweeted the seizure of the 388 kilogrammes of cocaine and said the suspects held were “part of a criminal organisation called the Seniors, which are engaged in the illicit trafficking of narcotic and psychotropic substances in the national territory and to the island of Trinidad and Tobago.”
Rico said he believed the CICPC had “infiltrated a criminal organisation dedicated to trafficking cocaine to Trinidad and Tobago” and had smashed their operation. One kilogramme of cocaine can fetch TT$100,000 on the streets.
The bust comes just two days after a Guardian Media exclusive report which revealed T&T law enforcement intelligence officers were concerned that one notorious Venezuelan gang, Evande, had infiltrated local gangs and was involved in the trafficking of narcotics and firearms into this country. Based on the information local law enforcement agencies obtained, several hundred members of Evande are here and had embedded themselves with local gangs and sought jobs in the construction sector.
A brief report carried in Venezuela’s El Nacional, under the headline “Delinquents used luxury cars to take drugs to Trinidad and Tobago,” yesterday indicated that two men were held along the Puerto Ordaz-Maturin Highway by CICPC.
Rico, who is also quoted in the newspaper report, said Alexander José Aponte Ramírez, 48, and Jaime Álvaro Rodrigo Pizarro Guerra, 55, were apprehended in an operation that covered the Puerto Ordaz-Maturín Highway.
During their sweep, two Hummer vehicles, two Chevrolets, a Mercedes Benz SLK 230, Ford Fusion and jet ski were searched. Inside the vehicles, in secret compartments, the Venezuelan police found tightly wrapped packages of cocaine in black.
Rico also pointed out that the hunt for the main men behind this operation, who were in charge of “transporting and distributing the merchandise to the neighbouring nation,” was still ongoing. Police believe the intended route of the drug shipment to T&T would have entailed transporting it first to Maturin, then onward to Tucupita in the state of Delta Amacuro — which has a river network that leads out to the Atlantic Ocean. From there, the necessary arrangements would be made by water to get the shipment to this country.
The Orinoco River is one of the four main rivers used by traffickers to smuggle contraband to the southwestern peninsula of T&T.
The suspects — Alexander José Aponte Ramírez and Jaime Álvaro Rodrigo Pizarro Guerra — were taken before the public prosecutor’s office 21 in the public prosecutor’s office in Monagas on charges of drug trafficking.
About two weeks ago, a cocaine shipment worth close to $120 million was found hidden beneath the Spanish tanker Hispania Spirit at the Atlantic Liquified Natural Gas port in Point Fortin. Police have not held anyone to date for questioning into this drug shipment.
- by Mark Bassant