New leader of Venezuela's 'Evander' gang held in T&T

A man known as "El Culon" who only recently assumed leadership of the Evander gang was one of eight Venezuelans arrested over the weekend in a police exercise in Point Fortin together with a Trinidadian man who together/who are both considered masterminds of kidnappings, drug trafficking, gun running and human trafficking.

Senior police sources told Guardian Media that "El Culon" is wanted by Venezuelan authorities for a litany of cross-border crimes.  Police sources say their information also suggests that the Trinidadian fisherman who was arrested has helped facilitate the illegal activities of the Evander gang in Trinidad. 

Several weeks ago Guardian Media revealed in an exclusive report that local law enforcement had raised concerns in intelligence reports about the Evander gang and other notorious gangs infiltrating this country. There was also credible evidence to suggest that the state of Delta Amacuro in which the city of Tucupita is located was a base from which traffickers peddle contraband into Trinidad.

A Venezuelan source said one month ago the gang's leader Evander Barrallas and other notorious members of the gang including "El Culon" had been involved in a shootout with Venezuelan police in Tucupita.

During that shootout, Barrallas was killed and "El Culon" escaped with gunshot wounds.

"When we held him ("El Culon") he had two bullet wounds to his stomach that was still healing," a senior source close to the investigation revealed to Guardian Media.

The senior source said they were having problems speaking to the men and needed to obtain the services of an interpreter.

"I know that officers of the Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit are supposed to interview them but we definitely need to get the services of an interpreter because of the language barrier. So far they have not been charged with anything." 

In a media release from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service on Sunday, which made no mention of the notorious Venezuelan gang leader, police indicated that South Western Divison officers had held eight Venezuelans and one Trinidadian at Warden Road in Point Fortin in two separate houses.

They recovered two pistols and nine rounds of ammunition.

During the exercise, officers also received information that led them to search a forested area along the Cap De Ville Main Road and found two AR-15 rifles wrapped in black plastic with two magazines and 64 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition.

- by Mark Bassant

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