A 38-year-old Guyanese policeman was shot in the lower back around noon yesterday, reportedly by suspected members of the dreaded Venezuela Sindicato gang. At the time he was travelling with civilians in the Cuyuni River, near Butanuamu Creek Point.
Corporal Quincy Alexander of Amelia’s Ward, Linden, and stationed at the Eteringbang Station, was wounded when the gunmen, who were on the Venezuelan side of the river, opened fire when the captain refused to stop.
A senior police official said that Alexander was conscious and his condition was not life-threatening, while a press statement described his condition as critical but stable.
He was medivacced to a city hospital late yesterday evening.
The attack is the most brazen by the ruthless Sindicato, who have been attacking and robbing Guyanese in the Cuyuni area, then fleeing into Venezuelan territory.
Corporal Alexander was heading to the joint services Macapa Base, which was recently set up in the wake of these attacks when the vessel he was in came under fire.
The vessel was also carrying seven other passengers.
As the passengers were heading to the Macapa base, the gunmen, who were in Venezuelan territory, began shooting in the air in an attempt to force the captain to stop.
However, the captain continued on his way and the gunmen then began to shoot at the vessel. Corporal Alexander was shot once in the back.
He was taken to a mining camp before being flown by chopper to Georgetown and admitted to a private hospital.
An official said that the shooting incident highlighted the dangers that ranks are countering in the areas where the Sindicato gangs are operating.
In late March, security officials here ordered more patrols in the Eteringbang border area after miners complained of being harassed to pay illegal toll to Venezuelan gang members called the Sindicato.
In an advertisement in the Kaieteur News, several miners had appealed for Government to place matching camps on the Guyana side of the Cuyuni River to protect locals who use that waterway.
The gang, last year, descended on San Martin, a Venezuela community opposite the Eteringbang landing on the Cuyuni.
However, the Venezuelan citizens objected after the gang members started to harass them for toll payments and percentage of goods being transported on the river.
Around early May, the Sindicato reportedly set up a camp on the Venezuela side of the river, about three miles from Eteringbang.
According to the advertisement, the gang was demanding a gram of gold for every five drums of fuel that had to pass.
They were also demanding food and cash.
A local miner said that his boat engine was seized and he was forced to pay to get it back.
The miners said that they are transporting the fuel for their own operations and there is little that can be done about the Sindicatos who are heavily armed and would even fire shots if vessels fail to comply with orders to halt.
Another gang reportedly set up another camp about 20 miles away in an area called Butanuamu.
The miners also appealed for escort for their boats that traverse the Cuyuni River.
Also in May, Kaieteur News reported that gunmen, believed to be marauding Sindicato, raided a mining camp near Baboon Backdam, Cuyuni River.
While a police statement said at least four masked men were involved, sources close to the incident said that the gang included at least eight men who were armed with high powered rifles.
Police confirmed that a quantity of raw gold and other valuables, including a licensed shotgun, were carted off by the gang.
Factions of the Sindicato were also blamed for the execution of a Guyanese miner in Venezuela in October, 2017, and the brutal beheading last January of another Guyanese.
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