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Cops detain four Jamaat members


Two very good friends employed with the Beverly Hills Housing Project were shot dead 13 hours apart at Plaisance Terrace, Laventille, between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. And in Arima, 64-year-old pensioner Cleytus Blaides was gunned down in the yard of his neighbour around 10 pm. Their deaths took the murder rate to 166 for the year, six short of the 172 figure of all murders in 2002, with three months still remaining in this year. Thirty-six persons have been killed in gang related shootings in Laventille for the year so far.

Police have since detained four members of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen in connection with the two latest executions and a roadblock was carried out close to the two killings. The first murder occurred around 7 pm on Wednesday when Ian White, alias “Biggie”,” was at his Building Five, Plaisance home with his girlfriend Valerie.

Reports revealed that three gunmen stormed the apartment and shot White. He was rushed to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. White was a close associate of gang leader Mark Guerra who was gunned down at Wallerfield a few months ago. He was also a suspect in several murders in Laventille. Three hours later, Damien Balasco, 25, alias “Blacks,” a close friend of White was at his Building Four apartment at Plaisance, when three gunmen attempted to break down the door to his apartment. Balasco placed a living room set against the door to prevent the gunmen from entering. They fired about ten shots and then fled the scene. Balasco’s wife Aisha told police investigators that he made a report to the Besson Street police and chose to remain in the apartment. Around 8.45 am, he was on his way to the Beverly Hills Housing Project where he was employed as a supervisor, when he was confronted by the three gunmen who fired 12 shots at him at point blank range. They then fled the scene.

A bleeding Balasco was rushed to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. A party of officers led by Inspector Ramnarine, Ag Inspector Sahadeo Singh, Ag Sgt Stephen Grant, Cpl Collins and others went to the scene and carried out enquiries. When Newsday visited the scene of the two shootings, residents of the area were reluctant to speak except to say that a “woman” was behind the two killings. Balasco, who was a suspect in several gang- related murders in Laventille, was freed of the murder of a schoolboy in 1997. He walked free after the witness in the killing failed to testify against him. Police investigators said yesterday that the two killings are linked to the Beverly Hills Housing Project. According to reports, a group of men had threatened Balasco over control of the Beverly Hills Housing Project. The men claimed that they had bid for the same project but were turned down.

The first act of violence linked to the project occurred on August 3, when a tractor, at the housing project was firebombed. Sanjay Maharaj, the owner of the tractor, described the incident as an act of terrorism. He was contracted to clear away a portion of the land to allow construction of 120 apartments in ten buildings as part of Government’s Urban Development Company Limited, and the National Housing Authority. The second act of violence occurred on August 5, when Leslie Ann Lewis was asleep at her Marcano Quarry apartment. She was awakened by the sound of rapid gunfire. On checking, she was greeted by the sight of broken glass in her living room and kitchen. A check later turned up several spent shells. Lewis told Newsday in an interview that she felt that she was targetted because she had earlier spoken out against the firebombing of the tractor. Police officers investigating the two killings said that they have increased patrols in the area.

Messages In This Thread

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