Sixty-seven people, including members of the Defence Force and the Coast Guard, were detained yesterday morning on a boat in the waters off Carenage.
The group was held in a yacht around 12.30 a.m., just over a week after more than 100 people were held on board the MV Ocean Pelican in contravention of Public Health regulations.
The Express was told the yacht was taken to Staubles Bay in Chaguaramas, where it was searched and a pistol found.
The 67 people were then taken to the Carenage Police Station where they were questioned and their information taken.
Investigators told the Express the details of this case were slightly different from that involving the Ocean Pelican, and as such legal advice was being sought in connection with laying charges last night.
Depending on the advice, those held would be charged overnight, or charges may be sent to the group via summons, police said.
The exercise involved the Western Division CID, Task Force, the police Riverine Unit and the Coast Guard.
Speaking at a news conference at the Ministry of National Security in Port of Spain, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said he had gotten “a whiff” of the report and it had excited and saddened his soul.
“I am very sad to learn there are still citizens of T&T who, in the face of the very serious threat of Covid-19 and its variants, the latest being Omicron, who would still find it necessary, useful, helpful, fashionable perhaps, to congregate themselves to party in the face of the risks we are all confronted with.
“But I immediately felt a great sense of happiness when the whiff suggested to me that members of the Western Division, the Coast Guard, and other elements the law enforcement platform were very heavily at work in the enforcement of Covid-19 regulations and laws, as they came across that sea craft and were able to intercept the craft and its persons,” Hinds said.
He said this demonstrated that the laws which were established to protect the people of T&T were being enforced and that no one was above the laws of this land.
“It also shows that your taxpayers’ efforts are coming to bear in the context of law enforcement. So, as the National Security Minister, I am very, very happy to see such reports. And I am also happy against the background of the fact that the new recently acquired Cape class vessels, CG41 and CG42, are impacting powerfully on our border security efforts,” Hinds said.
He said these vessels had already made significant contributions to border protection, having been used in marijuana seizures as well as the arrests of illegal immigrants attempting to come into Trinidad and Tobago.
“So, it is obvious the efforts we have made and are making in terms of improving our borders are very much on course, and I am looking forward to more,” Hinds said.
‘Ocean Pelican’ raid
Police are currently investigating the activities of 100 persons on the Ocean Pelican in a party atmosphere on Boxing day.
That day, according to police reports, Western Division officers received several calls from concerned people that a boat party was taking place.
A total of 100 persons—including businessman Adrian Scoon—were detained, and their information taken.
Consultations were held with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Sgt Adams is continuing investigations to determine if there were any breaches of the Public Health Regulations.
In the event that they were, these persons will be proceeded against by means of summons. The exercise was co-ordinated by Snr Supt Kelvern Thompson, Supt Henry, ASP Beard, and spearheaded by Insp Ramjattan and Sgt Adams. It included officers of the Western Division Task Force (WDTF), Special Patrol Unit, Marine Unit, Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) Police, and personnel from the Crime Scene Unit and Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
Checks by the Express on the Ministry of Works and Transport website, under Listing of Registered Passenger/Recreational Vessels—For Party Cruise Operations, lists the Ocean Pelican as being allowed 257 passengers.
Under Section 4(1)(C), the Public Health Ordinance Regulations 2020 states: (1) For the purposes of controlling and preventing the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), it shall be an offence, during the period specified in regulation 17, for any person to—(b) operate a party boat, boat tour or club; (c) hold public parties or public fetes.
Since then, Scoon, the son of Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, has been under scrutiny into how he was able to obtain a licence for a floating restaurant on the boat and alleged conversations he would have had with Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
In a statement on Sunday, Scoon admitted to calling Al-Rawi when police boarded the boat.
“I did place a call to the AG when police first arrived on the vessel; I was not in custody at the (Carenage) station at that time. The AG initially did not answer his phone. He then returned the call and when I explained to him what was taking place, he told me in summary that it was a police matter and to let the police do their job,’ he said.