Police have detained over 250 people as they swooped down on a “zesser” party in Caroni, on Sunday morning.
According to reports, around 4 am, officers of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) led by Sgt Mark Hernandez received information about the event that was taking place at a warehouse at River Branch Trace, off the Caroni South Bank Road.
When the officers arrived they found the patrons not wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
Sources said that some patrons attempted to escape by climbing the 10-foot wall of the compound.
Some intoxicated patrons managed the feat unscathed while others were not as lucky as they suffered serious injuries in falling from the wall.
Some of the persons, who managed to escape without injury, were arrested while walking through neighbouring communities as police officers, who surrounded the area, noticed their muddy clothing and bands from the party.
Sources said that many attendees were known to police as suspected gang members. Several illegal firearms were also alleged seized.
Guardian Media understands that the attendees were profiled and photographed at the location with most being allowed to leave after as they would be charged via summons.
In a press release issued a short while ago, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith stated that all the attendees would be charged on the ongoing public health regulations for the COVID-19 pandemic, which preclude gatherings of more than 10 persons and public fetes.
Griffith noted that his officers would continue to crack down on such events during the Christmas season and patrons would be arrested and charged for their irresponsible behaviour.
“It is amazing, that mere hours after Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and Minister of Health, Terrance Deyalsingh, stressed on the dangers of large social gatherings at public events, over 250 citizens would throw caution to the wind and participate in such an event, which not only endangers those who attend, but now these 250 plus persons will be returning to their homes to also endanger their loved ones and the wider public,” Griffith said.
Griffith also noted that some party organisers have previously attempted to evade prosecution by claiming that the events were hosted on private property not covered by the regulations.
He noted that such events were starkly different from small and responsible gatherings of family and friends at homes.
“This is totally different to Zesser parties, where organizers are advertising prior to the event, and patrons are paying a cover charge to enter the premise of persons they do not even know, with a cash bar at the event. This takes away the get out of jail free card of it being private property as such the Police would treat it as a violation of the legislation,” Griffith said.
The operation included officers from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), the Multi Operational Police Squad (MOPS), and officers from the Central Division under the command of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Balram and Senior Supt Simon.