Trinidad: Kidnappers seek $2.5m cocaine ransom for Venezuelan couple
(Trinidad Guardian) An estimated $2.4 million worth of cocaine has been demanded for the release of a Venezuelan couple who was allegedly kidnapped on Saturday afternoon.
The Anti-Kidnapping Unit is leading the search for migrants Juan Ruiz Espinoza, 23 and his girlfriend Betzabett Guitte, 20.
Investigators spent Sunday and yesterday questioning relatives and neighbours about the incident.
They suspect that the couple’s disappearance is linked to a gang member involved in the drug trade between Trinidad and Tobago and South America.
However, investigators are not ruling out other motives.
The couple’s 40-year-old landlord told police that he last saw them around 11 am on Saturday at his home in Palmyra Village, San Fernando.
A report made to the police stated that when they left their apartment, they informed the landlord that they were going to downtown San Fernando.
However, around 2.30 pm, Espinoza contacted the landlord, saying that he was at one of the KFC outlets in San Fernando and would meet him at King’s Wharf.
The landlord told police he waited until 12.30 am but no one came to meet him.
He reported further that he was later he got a call from another Venezuelan migrant who claimed to have received two phone calls.
One of the callers spoke in English and the second caller spoke Spanish.
Both callers indicated that the landlord should contact the families of Espinoza and Guitte and inform them that if they want the couple to be released, they should get six kilogrammes of cocaine.
The landlord reported the incident to officers at San Fernando Police Station, who began searching for the couple.
Espinoza is five feet, six inches tall and was wearing a pair of orange three-quarter pants and a black and white T-shirt when he was last seen.
Guitte is five feet, five inches tall, medium built, with long hair and a light brown complexion.
She was last seen wearing a pair of blue jeans pants and a pair of grey sneakers.
Police are asking anyone with information on the couple’s whereabouts to contact the nearest police station.
Trinidad and Tobago has offered Venezuelan nationals an amnesty allowing them to live and work here for an initial period of six months, which can be extended to a year, because of the neighbouring country’s poor economic and social fabric.
However, several Venezuelan nationals have been the victims of criminal activities.
On August 20, police rescued a 17-year-old Venezuelan national who was abducted and being kept in a house in exchange for drugs.
The victim told police that she lived in Longdenville and had been taken away from her home in a green Nissan vehicle driven by a ‘Rastaman’.
She had told the police that also in the car were two Venezuelan men and another unknown man.
According to the victim, the men were speaking about marijuana, and police were told that it was agreed that the 17-year-old would be used as ‘collateral’ as a guarantee that the drugs would be delivered.
She was taken to a house at St Ann’s, Port-of-Spain and left there and after 12 hours she managed to call for assistance.
She was eventually rescued by police at a home along Symond Road, St Ann’s one day later.
Meanwhile police say they are also keeping tabs on Venezuelan nationals who arealso the perpetrators of crime.
Just last week Tuesday, three Venezuelan men were among five suspects arrested for possession of a quantity of marijuana, during an anti-crime exercise conducted in the Northern Division.
The exercise, which was conducted by officers of the Northern Division Gang Unit, Northern Division Special Investigations Unit and Northern Division Task Force, resulted in officers stopping and searching a motor vehicle with three male occupants which was proceeding along the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway in the vicinity of Mausica Road.
A search of the vehicle resulted in officers discovering approximately nine kilogrammes of marijuana.
Two Venezuelan men and one Trinidadian man who were in the car at the time of the search were arrested in connection with the find.
The same party of officers then proceeded to Temple Street, Tunapuna, where they searched an apartment building, occupied by two men; one Trinidadian and one Venezuelan.
The search resulted in approximately five kilogrammes of marijuana being found in the apartment.
The two suspects were also arrested in connection with the discovery.
The total drug find amounted to 14 kilogrammes and has an estimated street value of $140,000.
Minister of National Security Stuart Young has insisted that any Venezuelan national found to be involved in crime, will be deported regardless of their status.