By NALINEE SEELAL, newsday.co.tt
COCAINE with a street value of more than TT$700 million, seven guns and ammunition were seized during a sting operation at Monos Island by officers of the Coast Guard, the Special Anti-Crime Unit (SAUTT), and Western Division police yesterday.
Four Venezuelans, four Trinidadians and an Antiguan were arrested.
The nine suspects were taken to the St James Police Station where they were being quizzed up to late yesterday by officers of the Organised Crime and Narcotics Unit (OCNU).
The guns were stored at the St James Police Station while the drugs, weighing 1749.9 kilogrammes, were taken to the OCNU office on Richmond Street, Port-of-Spain.
Police officers described the seizure of the drugs and cache of arms as the biggest for the year.
The guns seized included one 7.62 SLR, one mini UZI, one Glock, one Browning Pistol, one Baretta, one revolver and one AR-180 5.56 automatic rifle.
Officers also seized two magazines with 46 rounds, six rounds of .38 ammunition, 25 rounds of .380 in one magazine, 24 rounds in another two magazines, another 47 rounds in another magazine and 99 rounds in three magazines for a 7.62 weapon.
Police officers told Newsday that with the seizure of drugs and guns, they feel they may be able to make a breakthrough into a major drug trafficking operation at Monos Island. Officers believe the cocaine was supposed to be sold to American drug dealers.
The origin of the cocaine was traced to Venezuela, via Colombia.
Coast Guard sources revealed that the suspects had been under surveillance for a while based on key information received.
SAUTT officers, who are soon expected to receive their own fleet of speedboats, were informed by Coast Guard about the drug operation, and assisted in the exercise.
Officers surrounded a house at Monos Island early yesterday and staked out the area.
At about 3 am, the officers surrounded a house on the island, and conducted a search. A vessel was also searched and seized. The nine suspects were held during the massive cocaine seizure, while the guns and ammunition were later seized. The nine suspects will appear before a Port-of-Spain magistrate today.
In a release sent yesterday, the Coast Guard revealed that the seizures resulted from a surveillance exercise to curtail illegal activities occurring on Monos Island.
Around 3 am yesterday, vessels were detected on radar and intercepted by Coast Guard sea crafts. Additional investigations led to the seizure of the cache of arms.
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