Key questions in America Street cambio robbery remain unanswered

Stabroek News
October 4, 1999

Does the gang of armed bandits who eluded police in an East Bank Demerara canefield have the money they pillaged from the America Street cambio or is it stashed somewhere to be recovered later? How many persons were involved in the operation?

These are some of the many unanswered questions which face the investigating team looking into the brazen mid-morning robbery committed two weeks ago on the D. Singh and Sons cambio.

Two men, Clyde Atwell and Toyin Anderson, were charged with the crime and remanded to prison when they appeared before Chief Magistrate, Paul Fung-A-Fat, last Tuesday. Arrest warrants were issued for gang leader Lindon London called 'Blackie' and Andrew Douglas. Police killed another bandit, Terry 'Rusty' Madhoo, in a shoot-out after the robbery on Wednesday last week.

Eyewitnesses said four men robbed the cambio and got away in a car, keeping up a fusillade of bullets for some 20 minutes which injured five persons including an off-duty policeman. Questions have been raised about whether the men escaped in two teams: one acting as a decoy by covering its escape path with withering gunfire while the other one sneaked off unseen with the loot.

The bandits struck at around 0945 hrs and the police responded at approximately 1005 hrs when they received a call. The lawmen caught up with the escaping bandits in Regent Street but the question remains how did the criminals manage to get away?

This is what a police press release said in a statement after the crime: "The bandits proceeded to the North Ruimveldt area with the police in hot pursuit. They abandoned the motor car and hijacked a tractor operating in the area and proceeded to the canefields aback Mocha, East Bank Demerara."

Observers have asked that if the police were indeed in "hot pursuit" how did the bandits find time to abandon the car and hijack the tractor without the police catching up with them?

The police said last week that they were looking for three men who disappeared into the canefields. The operators of the hijacked tractor said that they were taken hostage by four men, one of whom was killed by the police at Mocha. So what about the fifth man who has been implicated where did he go when the getaway car was abandoned? Two appeared in court, London and Douglas are on the run, and Madhoo was killed.

The police had cordoned off an area consisting of nine canefields where they believed the bandits were trapped but did not move in before nightfall.

The following day the manhunt in the canefields was aborted as it was felt that the three bandits had escaped.

London has eluded the police for a number of years and had been hiding out at Kaieteur Top in the Potaro area. He escaped from the police while being brought out from Kaieteur Top about five years ago.

Senior Superintendent of Police Ivelaw Whittaker said the police are searching countrywide for the escaped bandits but could not confirm if the Kaieteur Top area is being tackled.

The police said it is believed that London had taken possession of the bag containing the money from the robbery.

The police are relentless in their pursuit to catch the bandits on the run. This was evident in the series of searches carried out in the West Demerara area over the last weekend. They appealed to the public for their cooperation.

But residents of Pouderoyen, West Bank Demerara, have described the tactics used by the police as "barbaric". They said the police harassed them physically, all the time demanding the whereabouts of a stash of money and guns.

Eusi Kwayana, of the Working People's Alliance, described the methods employed by the police as the work of people who have lost their calling.

"The police should stop this cruel gamble and get down to solid information gathering in order to track down and forestall criminal activity," Kwayana stated.

But last week the police expressed gratitude to the members of the public for their support rendered in the incident. They asked that civilians be on the alert and inform the police of any suspicious characters or movements in their communities.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples