TRINIDAD: This is how guns, ammo are coming from Venezuela

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) -A PLUMBER charged with bringing two loaded, illegal guns into this country from Venezuela has been fined $55,000.

Jason St Clair, 32 of Rousillac, was going to sell the prohibited goods.

St Clair was charged along with Venezuelan boat captain Douglas Mendoza with importing two guns and five rounds of ammunition back in April 2017. They were also charged with making a false declaration.

Mendoza pleaded guilty in December 2017 and was jailed for 16 months and fined $22,000.

St Clair appeared before San Fernando magistrate Anslem Leander last Friday.

The case was prosecuted by customs and excise senior attorney Harricharan Kassie. He told the court that on April 20 2017, the boat arrived from Venezuela and its occupants reported to customs and excise officer Visham Sonnylal at the customs office at King’s Wharf, San Fernando.

St Clair produced a declaration form stating that there was nothing to declare. The boat was cleared to enter. Sonnylal however soon after saw St Clair on the premises, handing a red and while bag to Mendoza over a fence.

Sonnylal searched the bag and found the two guns wrapped in a short pants. One had three bullets in the chamber while the other was loaded with two bullets.

Charges were laid by customs and excise officer Stacy Superville.

Defence attorney Frank Gittens told the court that his client had been in custody since his arrest, unable to access bail.

He said St Clair worked as a plumber and was also a pie vendor. Gittens also said that his client used to go to Venezuela to purchase beach chairs for his mother and was influenced to bring the guns into this country.

St Clair had told officers that he planned to sell the guns.

Gittens said the father of seven had changed his life and had gotten engaged.

Kassie asked the court to consider the prevalence of the crimes and that St Clair brought the illegal guns into this country. He asked for sentences that would deter the accused and others.

Leander fined him $40,000 for importing the prohibited goods and $15,000 for the false declaration.

St Clair was given five months to pay the fines or serve one year in jail.