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Saturday 21 September 2019
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2 arrested with El Culón appear in court, 1 jailed

The two men arrested with Venezuelan gang leader nicknamed "El Culón" appeared before a Point Fortin magistrate today jointly charged with having guns and ammunition.

The men – a Venezuelan and a Point Fortin fisherman – appeared before Alicia Chankar in the first court. The 25-year-old Venezuelan pleaded guilty through interpreter Luz Marina Topias De Copilah.

After prosecutor Sgt Jesse Jitmansingh read out the case, the magistrate sentenced him to 24 months in jail for having the guns and 12 months for the ammunition. The sentences are to run consecutively.

The Trinidadian, 28, pleaded not guilty and was denied bail and remanded into custody.

PC Hosein laid the charges.

Up to today, "El Culón" was being interviewed in Port of Spain by police from various specialised units, including the Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit, through an interpreter.

He is expected to appear before a Point Fortin magistrate during next week.

The 26-year-old has been identified as the leader of the notorious Evander gang, which operates in Tucupita, the capital city of Delta Amacuro state. Media sources in Venezuela told Newsday El Culón is believed to have assumed control of the gang in March after its former leader, Miguel Barrada Morales, 28, was killed by Venezuelan authorities.

El Culón is wanted back home for multiple murders, kidnappings and drug trafficking. Venezuela media said the gang controls all illegal activities in Altagracia, a community in Tucupita. He has also been linked to several kidnappings of Trinidadians at sea over the past few years.

South Western Division police arrested the three men at a house at Warden Road in Point Fortin, where they said they also found two pistols and nine rounds of ammunition.

Police are working with the International Criminal Police Organisation, Interpol, and the Venezuelan authorities over his arrest.

In a separate case, three other Venezuelans pleaded guilty before Chankar to having a revolver with four rounds of ammunition. They were arrested in an apartment on Sunday at Point Fortin after police found the illegal weapon.

They too were sentenced to 24 months for the gun and 12 for the ammunition.

PC Nanan laid the charges.

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