Eight people were detained yesterday after police swooped down on an area in Las Lomas in Central Trinidad where alleged illegal quarrying was taking place.
A team of officers from the Northern Division Major Operations Unit received information about the illicit activity after making contact with the office of the Commissioner of State Lands, who confirmed the activity was taking place on private lands after checking the land boundaries.
The police, accompanied by officials from the Commissioner of State Lands, went to the area at Savary Road, Las Lomas Number 1 shortly after 8 am. Upon arrival, police found an excavator at work clearing a portion of the land and five dump trucks with what appeared to be aggregate.
Officials subsequently discovered that the men on site did not have a license to quarry and they were later detained for questioning.
Investigators told Guardian Media that the men can be possibly charged for illegal mining and the owner of the private land could also be held culpable. Because the illegal activity was not being carried out on State lands, police said they could not seize the equipment.
Investigators told Guardian Media that villagers in the area had noticed intensified activity in the area over the last two weeks, with trucks going in and out of the seven-acre property. Sources also believe that this illicit activity has also been happening under the protection of law enforcement officers.
“The activity at this quarry alone could generate over $20 million,” a senior police source told Guardian Media.
The Ministry of Energy will also be conducting inquiries into the matter with the assistance of the police.
PC Sandy of the Northern Division is spearheading investigations.