Three cops among 8 held over Port Kaituma gold heist

Three policemen are among eight persons detained in connection with the brazen robbery on a gold mining establishment in Port Kaituma Central and according to Crime Chief Seelall Persaud most of the stolen loot has been recovered.

Addressing questions from reporters following the launch of the Christmas Policing Plan 2013 held at the Officers’ Mess, Eve Leary, Persaud confirmed the arrests of a police sergeant and two constables. He said they “apparently were part of the conspiracy”.

He said that additionally five persons are in custody. Stabroek News understands that among the civilians detained is the manager of the camp, who is said to be the mastermind.

“What the investigation has found so far is that an employee misbehaved with the owner’s money and planned a robbery or staged a robbery in order to deal with the situation of not being able to account for the money that he mishandled,” Persaud said. He said 96 ounces of gold were recovered along with in excess of $17 million.

Several attempts to contact the owner who is a resident of the Essequibo Coast and who is attached to similar businesses in Bartica and Georgetown were futile.

Information is still sketchy but according to what this newspaper has been told, the ‘robbery’ took place late on Friday night last at Eldorado Trading Company. The building which houses the business is located in the central hub or the business district of Port Kaituma and is bordered by a money transfer business, a hotel and a restaurant and bar.

This newspaper was told that persons became suspicious after they didn’t see any of the employees at the airstrip on Saturday morning. They usually go there to send packages out to Georgetown. It was at this point that the business was checked and two staff members were found unconscious. It is believed that they were drugged prior to the robbery.

Questioned about what turned out to be an excellent police investigation which resulted in the recovery of most of the loot and arrest of persons, Persaud said the robbery was reported many hours after it would have been committed. He explained that “it is the same persons who perpetrated [the robbery], had to report it so they had enough leeway. Action from the police was good but that was supported by a lot of members in the community and further afield.”

Based on what this newspaper was told the gold and money were transported by boat from Port Kaituma to Charity and most of it was subsequently taken to Blaimont, Berbice where it was found in a house of a man known to be involved in shady businesses. Police were able to track the robbers’ moves after residents reported seeing a boat leaving Port Kaituma around 1 am on Saturday, which was unusual.

Persaud, when asked about the tracking of the money and gold, said, “Guyana has a small population, people know people so it was cooperation from the community as well as the investigators’ interviewing skills and so on.”

He said the force has a practice in place where ranks are not kept at one location too long. This is particularly the practice at interior locations and according to Persaud that arrangement is still in place. He said the police sergeant was an example of that arrangement. Stabroek News was told that he was previously stationed at Matthews Ridge before being transferred to Port Kaituma sometime last year.

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