– provided gangs with guns, motorcycles
By Michael Jordan
After months of investigation, police have finally arrested a ringleader of one of the gangs that has been behind a wave of attacks on individuals leaving commercial banks with large sums of cash.
The suspect was arrested on Tuesday, and Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum said that investigators will be approaching the courts today to detain him further.
“We have arrested one of the ringleaders who is deeply involved in robbing customers leaving commercial banks,” the Crime Chief said.
“The group leader is fingered in the attempted robbery/murder at Fogarty’s, along with three other matters, where individuals leaving banks with large sums of cash were robbed.”
According to Blanhum, the suspect “revealed to investigators that he acted as the facilitator for the group, by providing them with firearms and motorcycles. The GPF will be applying to the court today for an extension of detention.”
The attempted robbery/murder to which the alleged ringleader has been implicated, occurred in October 2016 in a branch of the Electronics City store, which is located in the Fogarty’s building.
A customer, Abdel Odie, had entered the store with about $1.3M that he had withdrawn from Republic Bank. Odie was checking items in the store when another man held him at gunpoint and relieved him of a bag containing the cash.
The robber also shot armed Electronics City store guard, Quacy Anthony Joseph, in the stomach before escaping on a CG motorcycle.
Last week, Crime Chief Blanhum had revealed that an individual who was recently freed on a murder charge was the mastermind behind similar attacks. He had also stated that police intelligence indicated that the robbers comprise a group of men, who were “randomly selecting their victims.”
The Crime Chief had also said that the gangs have taken the place of several others that the police had dismantled.
“Police have so far dismantled six groups. The perpetrators are now in jail, but more persons are motivated to commit that sort of crime,” Blanhum said.
There has been concern that some low-level bank employees may be colluding with the robbers, but Blanhum said that there was “no evidence that bank tellers are involved.”
There have been at least nine attacks on persons leaving commercial banks between May 2016 and January 2017.
Six of the victims, including one woman, were shot during the robberies which were committed by individuals in cars and motorcycles. At least six of the victims had done transactions at the Republic Bank’s Water Street and Camp Street branches.
One victim was attacked after leaving the Demerara Bank Limited at Diamond, East Bank Demerara, and one after leaving Scotia Bank in Robb Street.
On December 10, 2016, 29-year-old contractor John Bryan uplifted some $3M from the Republic Bank in Water Street. To ensure that he wasn’t being followed, Bryan said that he boarded a bus, and exited at Lamaha Street and it was then that he saw two men walking briskly behind.
Suspecting that the men were robbers, the contractor ran into the Ministry of Finance compound. But the men pursued Bryan into the compound, shot him in the upper left thigh, and escaped with the cash in a white Toyota Premio, bearing registration number, PSS 4570.
It was last December also, that businessman Kenneth Earle, 39, withdrew $4M from Scotia Bank on Robb Street, Georgetown. Accompanied by a friend, Earle was about to exit his vehicle at a Prince William Street, Plaisance, East Coast Demerara house, when two gunmen attacked them. The men discharged several rounds, hitting Earle to his legs. The robbers then relieved the injured man of his cash.
Last January, Barbara Walrond uplifted a $2M payroll from the Republic Bank.
A group of men in a car trailed her to her Meadowbrook home, shot her in the arm, and escaped with the payroll.
Also in January, gunmen snatched $1.5M, a loaded firearm and three smartphones, from 41-year-old Elda Belle. Richard Bellamy, who was transporting the woman, was shot in the left leg. Belle, a businesswoman in the mining sector, had uplifted the money from Republic Bank on Water Street.
A few days later, Indranie Budhu, of 31 Chateau Margot, uplifted some $6M from Republic Bank’s Water Street branch. A taxi took her home, but as she was entering her yard, a man rushed in behind her and grabbed the money-bag. He fled in a car with an accomplice.
In August 2014, dredge owner Shyrazadi Ragghu and his wife stopped at a traffic light at the Regent Street and Vlissengen Road junction. Two gunmen on a CG motorcycle shot Mr. Ragghu dead, shot his wife in the right thigh, and escaped with his money.
Jermaine Otto, 25, of 735 East Ruimveldt, Georgetown and Travis McDougall, were later charged with Ragghu’s murder.
In April 2015, Fyuse Hussain, 64, a rice farmer and contractor, was shot in the head by bandits on a CG motorcycle.
In June 2015 rice farmer, Hardat Kissoon, uplifted a sum of cash from a city bank.
But a bandit posing as a passenger shot him dead in a minibus. It is believed that Kissoon was trailed by the bandit from a city bank to the Mahaica Bus Park after he had cashed a cheque. Two men were subsequently charged for Kissoon’s murder.
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