3 in court for illegal quarrying near Matura turtle-nesting site

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

An excavator was was siezed by police after it was allegedly found at an illegal quarry in operation in Matura on November 3. Photo courtesy TTPS

An excavator operator and two truck drivers appeared in court charged with digging and removing aggregate from state land near a protected leatherback-turtle nesting site in Matura.

Clarence London, of D’Amarie Hill, Guaico, Sangre Grande, along with truck drivers Rajesh Ramdass, of Freeport and Neil Cross, of Ste Madeline, appeared before magistrate Sarah de Silva in the Sangre Grande Second Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Excavator operator Clarence London charged with illegal digging and removal of aggregate from state land in Matura on November 3. Photo courtesy TTPS

They were each granted bail of $40,000 and ordered to return to court on April 17, 2023.

Officers of the Multi-Agency Task Force led by ASP Leon Haynes, acting on information from Forestry Division officers, arrested the suspects on November 3 and seized two trucks and the excavator. The machinery is being kept at the Cumuto army base.

Rajesh Ramdass charged with illegal removal of aggregate from state land in Matura. Photo courtesy TTPS

Task force officers, including lead investigator Sgt Sevrin Neckles, returned to the site on November 4, with a geologist from the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries, who retrieved samples of the minerals on the site, and the land inspector attached to the Office of the Commissioner of State Lands.

Eastern Division Crime Scene Unit officers were also called in to help record evidence.

Truck driver Neil Cross charged with illegal removal of aggregate from state land at Matura. Photo courtesy TTPS