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Tuesday 14 August 2018
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Two held with cash after airport heist

EVIDENCE: Police near a heavily tinted pick-up van which they believe was used in a daring $5 million hold-up by bandits at Piarco International Airport. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI

One day after bandits staged a multi-million-dollar heist at Piarco Airport, the Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit held two people with a large quantity of cash.

Police would neither confirm nor deny whether the recovered cash was loot from the robbery.

Members of the OCIU went to Longdenville, Chaguanas at about 10 pm on Thursday and searched a house, where they found the cash. The two people ­­­­- a man and a woman, both said to be in their thirties - were asked how they came into possession of the money, but could not give a satisfactory answer. They were arrested and taken for further questioning.

Sources told Newsday, investigators are comparing the serial numbers on the recovered money with a list of serial numbers on the cash stolen to confirm whether it came from the same batch in the airport robbery.

On Wednesday, just before midday, four masked men slipped past the gates of the docking area of the airport, held security at gunpoint, stole an estimated $5.5 million, and escaped in a black Toyota Hilux. The money was being sent to Tobago branches of First Citizens Bank. Bank officials told Newsday the stolen money was insured.

They said the bank benefits from assistance from the Bankers’ Association with security intelligence, and the bank protects customers’ money through various means including reinforcement of its premises, armed security, and surveillance measures.

“Our approach to risk mitigation calls for a continuous review of our policies, procedures and personnel, which is conducted systematically from period to period.”

A source at First Citizens told Newsday, contrary to claims circulating on social media, it was not US currency but TT dollars which was stolen in the Piarco robbery. The bank executive said it would not be logical for the bank to send US dollars to Tobago and, in any event, US dollars circulate in a different way within the bank. The executive said the money was being sent to resupply ATMs and to pay salaries to workers of the Tobago House of Assembly.

And National Security Minister Edmund Dillon yesterday declared robbery was “a gang-related activity.” Government MPs thumped their desks in support as he responded to a question in the House of Representatives. He said Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi had told Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar this was the root cause of this incident. Recalling the refusal of Opposition MPs to support the anti-gang bill in the House on Wednesday and Thursday, Dillon said illegal guns and “more than one person” were involved in the heist.

He identified additional training for airport security personnel, swifter response times by various law-enforcement personnel and an analysis of closed-circuit television camera coverage at the airport as some measures being looked at to strengthen security there.


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