Information is available on the US source who has been financing, providing arms for and “intellectual” support to the gang responsible for the Ministry of Health (MoH) fire and a series of attacks last year, but the source used multiple identities and his true name is still unknown, Crime Chief Seelall Persaud said.
With the series of shocking revelations reportedly made by gang member Collin Jones, who was captured by police last Friday in Amelia’s Ward, Linden, police are now faced with numerous questions about the overseas-based support the gang was receiving and how they managed to hide out for more than a year at the camp along the Kara Kara Creek.
The crime chief, during a telephone conversation with this newspaper yesterday – hours after Police Commis-sioner Henry Greene had spoken on the Kara Kara Creek find – said police are still working with their counterparts in the US “to identify him”. Persaud, responding to a question, said it was one man being sought by police and not a group. This man, the US source about whom Jones told investigators, was supporting the gang.
Who is this man? This is a question Persaud said he could not answer because investigators have so far only been able to determine that the man was operating under the names of several persons of “status” who had access to the US. The man, according to Persaud, forged documents to support the identities under which he operated. When asked for further details about the identities which were forged Persaud declined to comment.
On July 17, 2009, the MoH went up in flames. Less than four months later a group of men made attempts to burn the Supreme Court, the Richard Ishmael Secondary and sprayed the Brickdam and East La Penitence police stations with bullets. Following these attacks, the government made two requests to the US for assistance in locating a “mastermind”.
The mastermind, Persaud told this newspaper last December, was implicated through a telephone number after the MoH fire. The attacks, he said then, were not committed for financial or material benefit, since the gang concentrated on the police and buildings which held historical significance.
Meanwhile, Greene told reporters yesterday that police “have an ongoing link with the US in relation to the investigation of the fire where we have a suspect who we think, is living in the US, may have been involved in the financing the operation of this gang. Our information at this time is that one of the main operatives Kurt Thierens who we had the information on is now dead. We will supply the US with the current information that we have… and what we’ve been told by the suspect [Jones] who is in custody and they will take it from there. We already have all the previous information that we’ve had in relation to the fire and the links to this person overseas of whom we are aware.”
Source of the AK-47 rifles
Where did the AK-47 rifles discovered at the Amelia’s Ward area and the Kara Kara Creek camp come from? Jones, senior police officials have since confirmed, inform-ed investigators that the arms and ammunition were being provided to the gang by this man in the US.
Last Friday at the Amelia’s Ward location, where Jones was arrested, police found in a bushy area an AK-47 rifle, seven magazines, 198 rounds 7.62 x 39 ammunition, 2 pairs of handcuffs, one camouflage bullet-proof vest, a green long-sleeved overcoat, a green camouflage haversack and a Bible.
Later when Jones led investigators to the camp at First Savannah, Kara Kara Creek – where the gang had created a rugged training centre – police discovered two AK-47 rifles without magazines, a quantity of 7.62 x 39 rounds, a grenade, two bullet-proof vests, and a number of flares. They also found the decomposed remains of Kurt ‘Glasses’ Thierens and Adriano Tracey who were both wanted in connection to the MoH fire. Jones had told investigators that he killed the men after he suspected they were plotting against him.
Questions were raised about whether the three rifles were part of the 30 which were stolen from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) in February 2006. However, the crime chief said it had been confirmed that they were not from the stolen set.
When asked whether the rifles could have come from a local source Persaud said this was not a possibility. There is no legal local source for rifles and the only body with authority to import AK-47 rifles is the government, he explained.
The next questions for the police to answer were what location did the guns come from and how were they able to pass through the local security structure and into the hands of Jones and his colleagues? Persaud declined to comment further on this issue as well.
Greene said police have “asked for a trace” on the rifles and that it would not take too long since they now have access to Interpol’s I-24 system.
Who is George
On August 18, 2009 police had issued a wanted bulletin for George Lashley, who was said to be around 60, of Lot 187 Freeman Street, North East La Penitence, George-town for questioning in relation to the MoH fire.
More than a year later and police have still not been able to locate Lashley. A senior police source has since told this newspaper that Lashley was a member of the army and his last known location was the US. At the end of August 2009 Lashley was the fourth person police had expressed an interest in over the MoH fire. Former acting chief magistrate Juliet Holder Allen, Heston Bostwick and Archie Poole were all hauled in for questioning.
When asked about Lashley, Persaud said all the details police want known to the
public about Lashley had already been released in last year’s wanted bulletin.
“I don’t think the public needs to know anything else about George Lashley. I refuse to put the man on trial. Why should the man be put on trial in the media?” Persaud asked. He declined to respond when asked if Lashley had a criminal record and what his last known location was.
This newspaper also spoke with several police officials as well as a security specialist and a former member of the army, but none could provide any details on Lashley.
Jones had told investigators that the gang had been at the Kara Kara Creek location for about 16 months. Why in all this time were police not able to find the camp?
“Why did Stabroek News not know that the men were there?” was the crime chief’s response to that question. He later added that last Friday was not the first time police had visited the Kara Kara Creek location in relation to this matter.
Earlier this year, Persaud said, police had received certain information and in the last months continuous raids had been conducted in the general location. Persaud told this newspaper that two persons accused of harbouring the wanted men were taken into police custody following Jones’ arrest.
When asked how many gang members police were hunting, the crime chief said he could not provide at number at the time. Many names, he said, were being called by Jones but this was information which would have to be verified.
Greene, speaking on this matter yesterday, said that during earlier raids a week ago, two abandoned camps were discovered in outlying areas. However, he could not say whether these camps had been used by Jones, Thierens and Tracey.
Jones, according to the police commissioner, mentioned that persons had visited the Kara Kara Creek camp. However, these visitors were not other wanted persons. He said police have managed to obtain the “call names” of four other men but they were yet to obtain their legal names. Wanted bulletins, according to him, will be issued shortly.
Keith Ferrier, called ‘General’, for whom a wanted bulletin was also issued in relation to the November 4, 2009 attacks in the city, is still on the run, Greene said. Police are hunting for Ferrier, he said.
Greene said Collin Jones will be placed on an identification parade today for the murder of Wodette Roberts.
Jones has been in police custody for more than 72 hours.
Jones told investigators that on November 4, 2009 the gang had hijacked a white Dodge Ram, which they had driven to Linden. The burnt out vehicle was later discovered by police at Millie’s Hideout at Linden just off the Linden/Soesdyke Highway.
From the police’s accounts about eight armed men started a rampage on the Linden/Soesdyke Highway around 00:15 hours on November 4, 2009 when they carjacked three miners one of whom – Wodette Roberts called ‘Buckman’ – subsequently died from suffocation. Some of the carjackers, police said, journeyed to the city in the hijacked gold-coloured Tacoma and launched their attacks.
The commissioner also said that more will have to be done to provide police with the capacity to patrol the waterways in the interior locations. First Savannah is located about 15 miles along the Kara Kara Creek from Linden.