Police Commissioner Gary Griffith is warning party promoters against organising events in breach of COVID-19 public health regulations.
In a press release issued hours after his officers raided an event in Caroni and detained more than 250 attendees yesterday morning, Griffith said promoters had previously sought to rely on the fact that the events were being held on private property to evade prosecution. Griffith noted that is starkly different from small and responsible gatherings of family and friends at private residences.
“This is totally different to zesser parties, where organisers are advertising prior to the event, and patrons are paying a cover charge to enter the premise of persons they do not even know, with a cash bar at the event. This takes away the get out of jail free card of it being private property as such the police would treat it as a violation of the legislation,” Griffith said.
The CoP said his officers will continue to crack down on such events during the Christmas season and patrons will be arrested and charged for their irresponsible behaviour as was done yesterday.
“It is amazing that mere hours after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Minister of Health Terrance Deyalsingh stressed on the dangers of large social gatherings at public events, over 250 citizens would throw caution to the wind and participate in such an event, which not only endangers those who attend, but now these 250-plus persons will be returning to their homes to also endanger their loved ones and the wider public,” Griffith said.
At around 4 am yesterday, officers of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) led by Sgt Mark Hernandez received information about ab event taking place at a warehouse at River Branch Trace, off the Caroni South Bank Road.
When the officers arrived at the location they found patrons not wearing masks or practising social distancing.
Sources said some patrons attempted to escape by climbing the ten-foot wall on the compound. Some managed the feat unscathed while others were not as lucky as they suffered serious injuries when they fell off the wall.
Some of the patrons who managed to escape without injury were arrested as they walked through neighbouring communities. Police officers who surrounded the area, noticed their mud-stained clothing and shoes and their wristbands from the party.
Sources said many attendees were known to police as suspected gang members and several illegal firearms were seized.
The attendees, including teenage minors, were profiled and photographed at the location and most were allowed to leave as they will be charged via summons.
Photographs of the patrons seated on the ground in large groups were shared by the TTPS and on social media.
The operation included officers from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), the Multi Operational Police Squad (MOPS), and officers from the Central Division under the command of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Balram and Senior Supt Simon.