Lopinot residents are the real heroes who were responsible for the recapture of prisoner Siew “Ramdass” Persad after he escaped from the Maximum Security Prison, Golden Grove, on Friday morning.
Persad was caught and tied to a railing outside the St Philip’s Anglican Church along the Lopinot Main Road by alert villagers at around 3.30 pm, just hours after his escape. They stopped him as he passed through the area on which way from Blanchisseuse. They said this was not the first time such suspicious activity had occurred in the quiet, close-knit community.
One resident said the area is now known as an easy transfer point for the sale of illegal drugs and weapons.
The man, who did not want to be identified, pointed to the main road leading out of the area and said: “This road is more busy at night than during the daylight, with four-wheel drive vehicles. Strange cars are often seen going up and they would meet along the road and the cars normally come back down.”
People use the Lopinot Main Road to get to Blanchisseuse.
Persad escaped from custody at around 9 am while working in the prison’s vegetable gardens. A manhunt by prison and police officers in the Aripo Hills, Five Rivers lasted for several hours but Persad was not found. Information suggested he might have been heading to his home in Temple Village, Blanchisseuse.
The escapee had been serving a one-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to stealing chickens in December 2020 and was due to be released in June.
Lopinot residents say Friday’s incident underscored the need for a police post in the area. They said they have been calling for one for more than ten years.
One of them said he saw the cleanly shaven Persad walking along the road dressed in clean clothing. Persad initially denied being the escaped prisoner and actually asked for help to get to the Eastern Main Road as he wanted to go to Arima.
Instead, he was detained by the residents who contacted E999 to report the matter as he was acting suspiciously.
“We don’t have regular police patrols. We have a wanton drug problem in the community. We have a wanton problem with young men who are teenagers who are alcoholics, they are getting it to buy very easy in the bars and groceries. The pusher men are 13 and 14 years old… they does trip off because of the drugs and when you call Arouca Police Station, they never have transport,” a resident said.
Another chimed in: “They don’t come to assist us…no way, no how.
“If you come into Lopinot and commit a crime, you have almost six miles to go before you reach Arouca. On the drive up here, so much things can happen. Police have already picked up five bodies along the Lopinot Road in the past.
“We are the same like Arima—it is a dumping ground. It is not a busy place but the residents do pay attention and look out, so we notice strange vehicles and people that do not belong up here.”
One resident expressed concern that Persad was able to reach home, shave, shower and change into clean clothes before setting off again and believes he was given assistance along the way.
“If we get more support from the police, the drug problem we are facing will cease. These kinds of incidents will not take place. We are begging for a police presence even if it is just in the night,” he said.