Kidnappers seek $2.5m cocaine ransom for Venezuelan couple - EntornoInteligente
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An es­ti­mat­ed $2.4 mil­lion worth of co­caine has been de­mand­ed for the re­lease of a Venezue­lan cou­ple who was al­leged­ly kid­napped on Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon.

The An­ti-Kid­nap­ping Unit is lead­ing the search for mi­grants Juan Ruiz Es­pinoza, 23 and his girl­friend Bet­z­a­bett Gui­tte, 20. 

In­ves­ti­ga­tors spent Sun­day and yes­ter­day ques­tion­ing rel­a­tives and neigh­bours about the in­ci­dent.

They sus­pect that the cou­ple’s dis­ap­pear­ance is linked to a gang mem­ber in­volved in the drug trade be­tween Trinidad and To­ba­go and South Amer­i­ca.

How­ev­er, in­ves­ti­ga­tors are not rul­ing out oth­er mo­tives. 

The cou­ple’s 40-year-old land­lord told po­lice that he last saw them around 11 am on Sat­ur­day at his home in Palmyra Vil­lage, San Fer­nan­do. 

A re­port made to the po­lice stat­ed that when they left their apart­ment, they in­formed the land­lord that they were go­ing to down­town San Fer­nan­do.

How­ev­er, around 2.30 pm, Es­pinoza con­tact­ed the land­lord, say­ing that he was at one of the KFC out­lets in San Fer­nan­do and would meet him at King’s Wharf.

The land­lord told po­lice he wait­ed un­til 12.30 am but no one came to meet him.

He re­port­ed fur­ther that he was lat­er he got a call from an­oth­er Venezue­lan mi­grant who claimed to have re­ceived two phone calls.

One of the callers spoke in Eng­lish and the sec­ond caller spoke Span­ish.

Both callers in­di­cat­ed that the land­lord should con­tact the fam­i­lies of Es­pinoza and Gui­tte and in­form them that if they want the cou­ple to be re­leased, they should get six kilo­grammes of co­caine.

The land­lord re­port­ed the in­ci­dent to of­fi­cers at San Fer­nan­do Po­lice Sta­tion, who be­gan search­ing for the cou­ple.

Es­pinoza is five feet, six inch­es tall and was wear­ing a pair of or­ange three-quar­ter pants and a black and white T-shirt when he was last seen.

Gui­tte is five feet, five inch­es tall, medi­um built, with long hair and a light brown com­plex­ion.

She was last seen wear­ing a pair of blue jeans pants and a pair of grey sneak­ers.

Po­lice are ask­ing any­one with in­for­ma­tion on the cou­ple’s where­abouts to con­tact the near­est po­lice sta­tion.

Trinidad and To­ba­go has of­fered Venezue­lan na­tion­als an amnesty al­low­ing them to live and work here for an ini­tial pe­ri­od of six months, which can be ex­tend­ed to a year, be­cause of the neigh­bour­ing coun­try’s poor eco­nom­ic and so­cial fab­ric.

How­ev­er, sev­er­al Venezue­lan na­tion­als have been the vic­tims of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties.

On Au­gust 20, po­lice res­cued a 17-year-old Venezue­lan na­tion­al who was ab­duct­ed and be­ing kept in a house in ex­change for drugs.

The vic­tim told po­lice that she lived in Long­denville and had been tak­en away from her home in a green Nis­san ve­hi­cle dri­ven by a ‘Ras­ta­man’.

She had told the po­lice that al­so in the car were two Venezue­lan men and an­oth­er un­known man.

Ac­cord­ing to the vic­tim, the men were speak­ing about mar­i­jua­na, and po­lice were told that it was agreed that the 17-year-old would be used as ‘col­lat­er­al’ as a guar­an­tee that the drugs would be de­liv­ered.

She was tak­en to a house at St Ann’s, Port-of-Spain and left there and af­ter 12 hours she man­aged to call for as­sis­tance.

She was even­tu­al­ly res­cued by po­lice at a home along Symond Road, St Ann’s one day lat­er.

Mean­while po­lice say they are al­so keep­ing tabs on Venezue­lan na­tion­als who are­al­so the per­pe­tra­tors of crime.

Just last week Tues­day, three Venezue­lan men were among five sus­pects ar­rest­ed for pos­ses­sion of a quan­ti­ty of mar­i­jua­na, dur­ing an an­ti-crime ex­er­cise con­duct­ed in the North­ern Di­vi­sion.

The ex­er­cise, which was con­duct­ed by of­fi­cers of the North­ern Di­vi­sion Gang Unit, North­ern Di­vi­sion Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tions Unit and North­ern Di­vi­sion Task Force, re­sult­ed in of­fi­cers stop­ping and search­ing a mo­tor ve­hi­cle with three male oc­cu­pants which was pro­ceed­ing along the Churchill-Roo­sevelt High­way in the vicin­i­ty of Mau­si­ca Road.

A search of the ve­hi­cle re­sult­ed in of­fi­cers dis­cov­er­ing ap­prox­i­mate­ly nine kilo­grammes of mar­i­jua­na.

Two Venezue­lan men and one Trinida­di­an man who were in the car at the time of the search were ar­rest­ed in con­nec­tion with the find.

The same par­ty of of­fi­cers then pro­ceed­ed to Tem­ple Street, Tu­na­puna, where they searched an apart­ment build­ing, oc­cu­pied by two men; one Trinida­di­an and one Venezue­lan.

The search re­sult­ed in ap­prox­i­mate­ly five kilo­grammes of mar­i­jua­na be­ing found in the apart­ment.

The two sus­pects were al­so ar­rest­ed in con­nec­tion with the dis­cov­ery.

The to­tal drug find amount­ed to 14 kilo­grammes and has an es­ti­mat­ed street val­ue of $140,000.

Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Stu­art Young has in­sist­ed that any Venezue­lan na­tion­al found to be in­volved in crime, will be de­port­ed re­gard­less of their sta­tus.

LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian

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