41 foreign women held after cops raid city hotel and bar

-human trafficking probe underway

Two police vans and a bus parked outside the Diamond Hotel and Bar, which was raided yesterday morning

Forty-one women, all foreign nationals, were detained yesterday morning after the Guyana Police Force (GPF) raided the Diamond Hotel and Bar on George Street, Georgetown and investigators are working to determine if they are human trafficking victims.

At a subsequent press conference yesterday, acting Crime Chief Paul Williams announced that the Major Crimes Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department conducted the raid on the business, where they rounded up the foreign nationals and eight local employees. The women are believed to be from Venezuela, Colombia and the Dominican Repub-lic, among other places.

Williams also confirmed that some narcotics were found on the premises of the business. All of the persons arrested were taken to the Brickdam Police Station, where they were being processed up to yesterday afternoon.

One of the police vans filled with suitcases belonging to the foreign nationals, who were taken into custody.

At the scene around 10 am, there were 11 police vehicles parked around the Princes and George streets intersection. Most of them were positioned along George Street, where the Diamond Hotel and Bar and the Guinness Umbrella Bar are located.

According to sources, the police force, acting on information, stormed the two locations around 7 am. About 15 police ranks searched both premises. They found no one in the Guinness Umbrella Bar but found the 41 foreign nationals in the Diamond Hotel and Bar. Eight local employees who were on the top floor of the building were also held.

Some of the employees who were arrested at the Diamond Hotel and Bar yesterday morning in the back of a police van waiting to be transported to the Brickdam Police Station.

Scores of onlookers gathered around the building as the police rounded up the women and the workers. Most of the foreign nationals were placed in a large 30-seater bus and in some of the police vehicles, while the employees were placed in the back of a van and transported to the police station around 10.30 am.

It is left to be seen how the cases of the 41 women are handled. In most cases, the police only file immigration charges pertaining to length of stay or illegal entry. There is usually no sign of any human trafficking investigation. Investigators have said in the past that women in these incidents are reluctant to provide statements.

While some residents were happy that the police raided the area, given that the business has been creating “unbearable” noise pollution and heavy traffic congestion in the night, others expressed their dissatisfaction and claimed that the police were unprofessional.

“I does see them same police around here some nights and them police vehicles always stopping and coming in too, so I don’t know what going on. As far as I know, them man and all them girls got their papers in check cause I know the man that own the place. But is what they doing? Last year they come and do the same thing and it come back, this year they do it again and watch and see it gon come back,” one resident, who frequents the business said

One man, who claimed to be the caretaker and identified himself as Gregory, also alleged that he was “beaten out of his sleep” by one of the policemen and arrested. Other employees who were also arrested made similar claims about being assaulted by the police.

Yesterday marked the second time the business has been raided in less than a year. Last year May the police had carried out a similar operation and they said four Venezuelan women, who were suspected to be victims of human trafficking, were rescused. That raid had also resulted in the police recovering an illegal firearm with 15 live rounds of ammunition.

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