National Security Ministry agrees to provide information to gun dealers

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Mark Hernandez, former head of SORT – Special Operations Response Team. –

THE Ministry of National Security has agreed to provide two firearm dealers with 90 per cent of the information relating to the audit of the police’s firearms registry.

On Thursday, the judicial review claims of Jethro John and that of former SORT boss Mark Hernandez and his wife, Anna-Marie Metivier-Hernandez, were called before Justice Devindra Rampersad at separate virtual hearings.

In both, the judge was told that the ministry had agreed to disclose 90 per cent of the information both dealers asked for in separate freedom of information requests back in May.

The dealers were represented by former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC, while Gregory Delzin appeared for the ministry in John’s matter and Chelvi Ramkissoon in the Hernandezes’ case.

John, his company, Centrefire Advanced Security Solutions Ltd (CASS) and a sporting organisation he founded, the International Defence Pistol Association (IPDA) which operates in Gran Couva, had received the go-ahead from the court to pursue his claim against the ministry for failing to provide the information. The same was granted to the Hernandezes, who run MH Tactical Response Group and an approved shooting range in Chaguaramas.

Both dealers are challenging the legality of the committee appointed to audit the police’s firearms registry and the involvement of a senior officer.

Both Ramlogan and Delzin said the information would be made available in 30 days or August 3.

Both sides will confirm their positions and indicate if there was satisfaction with the disclosure by August 4 after which Rampersad will give his order on any outstanding issues and costs by August 22.

John and the Hernandezes requested the information after police visited their respective dealerships in 2022, asking for import permits and firearm registers from 2018-2022. Their businesses and ranges were also searched.

They said they have been left in the dark as to why their companies and ranges were targeted for investigations and an audit while other entities are being allowed to continue operations without the fear of harassment or victimisation.

In their request, they asked for details on the appointment of the audit committee and the relationship of the senior officer who visited their dealerships with the committee as well as if he disclosed any conflict of interest regarding his involvement in any private entity in the firearms and shooting range industry.