Fourth Bartica robbery spree suspect held

A fourth man believed to be the accomplice of the three killed by Joint Services ranks on Saturday at Arimu backdam, Cuyuni was captured later that day.

Two women have also reportedly been detained.

Ranks yesterday returned to the area to support those left there to conduct further operations, this newspaper was told. The lawmen are being aided by the Guyana Defence Force’s helicopter. While information as to the exact circumstances of the capture of the man and the two women are sketchy, sources said that they are in custody at the Bartica Police Station.

Meantime, even as Barticians expressed relief at the dismantling of the gang, believed to be behind the spate of gun crimes in the town recently, another robbery occurred in the community yesterday. Sources told this newspaper that at around midday a Brazilian national was robbed by two men. According to the reports, the robbers snatched gold chains and money from the man but were seen in the act by public-spirited citizens, who informed the police. The police trailed them and captured one man identified as “Funky dread” while his accomplice escaped, the sources said.

According to a resident, the robbers are residents and he pointed out that this was how the criminals begin before graduating to bigger crimes.

On Saturday, Joint Services officers shot and killed the alleged mastermind of the spate of gun crimes at Bartica and two of his gang members during an early morning operation at Arimu backdam, Cuyuni.

The gang had reportedly ambushed the officers when they went into the area, opening fire and hitting a policeman identified as Lance Corporal Isaacs. Isaacs sustained a gunshot injury to his right forearm and was said to have escaped further injury because he was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Dwayne Marks called ‘Bully’, 25, of Bartica, who was known to the police, was identified among the dead gunmen. Police named Antwan Singh called ‘Deportee’, 35, of Linden and Gavin Gray called ‘Sweet Eyes’, 27, of Bartica as the other two gunmen who were shot dead.

Marks was said to have orchestrated the string of recent criminal attacks in the community that led to Regional Chairman Holbert Knights calling for increased and active law enforcement at Bartica. Marks was recently before the courts on a charge of discharging a loaded firearm and simple larceny and was out on bail. He was also a suspect in the murder of gas station owner Brandis Roberts who was found in his home with marks of violence to his body on November 20, 2008.

On January 2, 2008, Magistrate Melissa Robertson-Ogle had remanded Marks after he was charged with jumping through the window of a bus to freedom while he was being escorted to court.

He was not required to plead to a charge of escaping lawful custody when it was read to him in the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court.

It is alleged that on July 12, 2007, at De Kenderen, West Bank Demerara, being in lawful custody as a remand prisoner on a criminal charge, Marks escaped.

Reports are that on the said day, Marks was being escorted to the Camp Street prison, in a 26-seater minibus, after being charged with three counts of break and enter and larceny and armed robbery. He was later recaptured at Bartica. It is unclear what became of that case.

Police, in a press release on Saturday had stated that the joint services officers were responding to a report of an armed robbery at the backdam when they came under fire on the Arimu trail. Police said two .38 revolvers along with eight rounds and one .32 pistol with six matching rounds were recovered from the dead gunmen. According to the police, the All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) that was stolen from Brazilian miner Osmar Oliveira Da Silva, and which was in possession of the gunmen, was also recovered. Da Silva had been attacked in his camp at Arimu backdam on February 18, by two men armed with firearms and two women.

He was in his camp along with another Brazilian when they were confronted by the perpetrators. The robbers took Da Silva’s ATV. He had tried to resist his attackers and was shot in his left leg by one of the men. The robbers then escaped on the ATV.

Additionally, the police said on Saturday that a resident of Bartica who was the victim of an armed robbery at Mongrippa Hill, Bartica, on February 2, has identified a cell phone found on the body of Gray as his property which was stolen during the robbery.

Miners, particularly Brazilians have been attacked within the past few days, and according to informed sources at Bartica the attacks have been more frequent than reported. Stabroek News was told that police at Bartica had information on the gang and that several attempts were made to capture them, none successful.

However, the police received information late Friday night that the men were spotted at Arimu backdam and a team was mobilized. Sources said that a heavily armed joint services patrol left Bartica for the Arimu backdam just before midnight.

This newspaper was told that the police had some intelligence as to the gang’s exact location but when they got there the men ambushed them.

It is believed that Marks might have been alerted about the joint services operation and organized the ambush, but the police reportedly outnumbered the gang. The operation lasted for about 30 minutes.

Relief has been expressed by several residents regarding the dismantling of the gang. Investigations are ongoing and those detained are undergoing questioning.

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