Stabroek News

Trinidad: Three Cops detained following rescue of kidnapped woman

A police officer, left, oversees the wrecking of the vehicle in which kidnap victim Natalie Pollonais was being transported along the Churchill Roosevelt Highway in El Soccorro, San Juan, last night.

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) Hours af­ter work­ers of In­land and Off­shore Con­trac­tors Ltd (IO­CL) joined hands in prayer for the safe re­turn of Na­tal­ie Pol­lon­ais, a com­bined ef­fort by T&T’s na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty agen­cies led to her res­cue in El So­cor­ro, San Juan, last night.

Pol­lon­ais, 49, of Palmiste, is the wife of Ja­son Pol­lon­ais, a di­rec­tor of the South Oropouche-based IO­CL.

Na­tal­ie Pol­lon­ais

Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith last night con­firmed Pol­lon­ais res­cue dur­ing a hasti­ly called me­dia con­fer­ence out­side Po­lice Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing, Port-of-Spain. He said af­ter hours of col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween var­i­ous arms of na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty, Pol­lon­ais was “ex­tract­ed”. He said she was in good health and not­ed that no ran­som was paid to the kid­nap­pers. Grif­fith al­so said one per­son was ar­rest­ed but re­fused to pro­vide more in­for­ma­tion un­til the oth­er kid­nap­pers were held.

How­ev­er, news reach­ing the T&T Guardian was that po­lice had last night de­tained sev­er­al more sus­pects, in­clud­ing three of their col­leagues. The T&T Guardian was told a cor­po­ral at­tached to the High­way Pa­trol and two con­sta­bles at­tached to the La Ro­maine po­lice were be­ing in­ter­ro­gat­ed in con­nec­tion with the ab­duc­tion.

Re­ports in­di­cat­ed that the Or­gan­ised Crim­i­nal In­tel­li­gence Unit (OCIU) and the An­ti-Kid­nap­ping Unit (AKU) had been con­duct­ing sur­veil­lance on a white Nis­san AD Wag­on that went to a ho­tel in Ca­roni and left min­utes lat­er yes­ter­day be­fore they lat­er res­cued Pol­lon­ais from the same ve­hi­cle.  

CCTV footage ob­tained from C3 Cen­tre in Ste Madeleine, where Pol­lon­ais was seen be­fore her kid­nap­ping, had al­so shown two men wear­ing tac­ti­cal po­lice uni­forms en­ter­ing a white Nis­san AD Wag­on re­sem­bling the one she was res­cued from.

In­tel­li­gence sug­gest­ed that the kid­nap­pers were mov­ing Pol­lon­ais around, the T&T Guardian was told. A tac­ti­cal unit was de­ployed and the AD Wag­on was in­ter­cept­ed in El So­cor­ro and Pol­lon­ais was res­cued. A Ford Ranger, which was said to be ac­com­pa­ny­ing the wag­on, was found aban­doned in St Au­gus­tine. The two ve­hi­cles were tak­en to the Spe­cial Ev­i­dence Re­cov­ery Unit (SERU) in Cu­mu­to for foren­sic test­ing.

Policemen hold a suspect in the Natalie Pollonias kidnapping on the Churchill Roosevelt Highway, El Socorro, last night.

Last night, Grif­fith said around 7 pm of­fi­cers of the AKU, OCIU, Spe­cial Branch, De­fence Force and oth­er tac­ti­cal units em­barked on an op­er­a­tion to res­cue Pol­lon­ais af­ter four days and nights of in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing. He said clin­i­cal plan­ning was done with the use of the Strate­gic Ser­vices Agency and the Na­tion­al Op­er­a­tions Cen­tre.

Af­ter be­ing res­cued, Pol­lon­ais was tak­en to the Po­lice Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing where she met with Grif­fith. She was then tak­en to the Port-of-Spain Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal for a med­ical as­sess­ment. Grif­fith said she was not harmed and was in good con­di­tion.

“This sends a sig­nal to all crim­i­nal el­e­ments: it is not busi­ness as usu­al. What you are see­ing here tonight with the ex­trac­tion of Mrs Pol­lon­ais, it is what we in­tend to do and will con­tin­ue to do. We can nev­er have a crime- free coun­try. What we will do is con­tin­ue to pro­vide the de­ter­rent and, with the as­sis­tance of the State, for us to en­sure the safe­ty and se­cu­ri­ty of this coun­try,” Grif­fith said.

Last Thurs­day, Pol­lon­ais dis­ap­peared af­ter vis­it­ing the Cen­tral Ath­let­ic Club gym and some stores at C3 Cen­tre. CCTV footage showed she left in her BMW 5308 hy­brid sedan around 11.30 am. Her hus­band re­port­ed her miss­ing when she did not re­turn home.

On Thurs­day night, San Fer­nan­do CID and South­ern Di­vi­sion Task Force found her car aban­doned in the park­ing lot of an apart­ment build­ing at Cy­press Hills, Union Hall.

Al­so on that night, her kid­nap­pers con­tact­ed her fam­i­ly and de­mand­ed a US$300,000 ran­som for her re­turn. The kid­nap­pers al­lowed her to speak to her hus­band as proof she was alive. How­ev­er, they hung up when the is­sue of the cur­ren­cy of the ran­som arose. A source said that the fam­i­ly had gath­ered the mon­ey and was pre­pared to pay.

Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Stu­art Young said last night that the res­cue em­pha­sised Gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to sup­port all na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty agen­cies. Young con­grat­u­lat­ed Grif­fith and the po­lice ser­vice, chalk­ing up the op­er­a­tion to hard work and “a bit of luck.”

As news spread at the Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress’ Mon­day Night Fo­rum that Pol­lon­ais was res­cued by po­lice, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Mooni­lal made an im­me­di­ate call for her kid­nap­pers to feel the full brunt of the law.

“I trust that those held will feel the full brunt of the crim­i­nal law, I ex­press re­gret that they could not find Ria Sookdeo from my con­stituen­cy and so much more women who have been ab­duct­ed,” Mooni­lal said.

Sookdeo, a moth­er of two, was ab­duct­ed near Di­a­mond Vil­lage, San Fer­nan­do, on Sep­tem­ber 16, 2016, af­ter drop­ping off her chil­dren to the Pic­ton Pres­by­ter­ian school.

Her hus­band Mark Sookdeo has been pray­ing for her safe re­turn since then.

How­ev­er, Mooni­lal pre­dict­ed that crime will in­crease if thou­sands of work­ers from Petrotrin are sent home. He al­so said that the PNM Gov­ern­ment led by Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley had a plan to sell the Pointe-a-Pierre re­fin­ery and bring dis­tress to hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple.