A 30-year-old Chaguanas man has been trying to sell a gun on Facebook. He advertised the weapon, a Beretta pistol, for $8,000. The post attracted scores of enquiries.
Facebook reacted on Tuesday by pulling the post and telling the man he had violated Facebook’s rules.
However, minutes after the father of three posted the ad with the words “Fire $8,000” on Tuesday, with a photo of the pistol, several interested buyers responded. They included members of the Unruly ISIS gang as well as people the man did not know.
Some of the responses included comments such as “Interested” and “Good price bro.”
Yesterday the man told Newsday he had received close to ten offers from people wanting to buy the gun, but said he was not aware that he was violating the Firearms Act by placing the ad on Facebook. He said the gun belonged to an uncle who transferred it to him seven years ago and he has documents to prove it is not an illegal one. He also said yesterday that he had other guns for sale, but added, “If the police come to me and ask about those other guns, I will not give them up just so, they will have to find them for themselves.”
He also admitted yesterday that seven years ago, when he was 23, he joined the Unruly Isis gang, because he felt it was necessary for him to do so at the time. He said, two years ago he decided to leave the gang but pointed out that even after that, he was told on several occasions that a gang member cannot leave a gang by simply walking away.
The man was charged with attempted murder, wounding and possession of ammunition, but those matters were dismissed in the Chaguanas Magistrates’ Court.
He earns a living as an electrician and plumber. Since leaving the gang, he said, he has been living an honest and law-abiding life because of his three daughters, aged seven months, 18 months and ten.
Asked by Newsday why he put the gun for sale on Facebook, Charles said, “I saw other people placing ads on Facebook for cars and other items they own, so I thought it was a good idea to do so, but I never knew that it had repercussions.
“I have decided to not put the ad back.”
He is also concerned that someone may use the opportunity to pretend to want to buy it and then rob, wound or kill him. He said, on Wednesday a man contacted him through Facebook and asked to meet that afternoon to buy the gun, but he did not hear from the person again.
ACP Irwin Hackshaw, who is in charge of crime, said he was surprised to learn the former gang member had taken to social media to advertise a gun for sale. He said, “It is an offence to offer the sale of a firearm without an appropriate licence. If that is the case, then it is illegal and the police will have to look into this.”
Hackshaw said the police Cyber Crime Unit and the Port of Spain CID, along with the Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit will investigate the matter.
He warned members of the public the police are taking note of a lot of illegal communication on social media and action will be taken where necessary.
Also yesterday, acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob said, “When the anti-gang legislation is reviewed and is made law, these sorts of activities will assist tremendously in evidence-gathering to prove gang relationship and activities.”
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said, “I cannot ascertain the veracity of the report told to me. However, if this is true there are several matters that the TT Police Service will be required to investigate with immediacy. These matters include potential offences under the existing laws of TT. If there were still anti-gang legislation in existence there would be an immediate and very wide net of further potential offences which the police could investigate and properly prosecute.
“This wider net under the anti-gang laws would have facilitated the potential arrest, prosecution and conviction of all gang members linked to the predicate offences underlying the gang activities. It is regrettable that only the UNC cannot see the validity of returning anti-gang legislation to the laws of TT.”