GEORGETOWN – Police up to press time had recaptured seven of 13 prisoners who staged a daring, pre-dawn breakout yesterday from the Lusignan Prison holding area, after crawling to freedom through a five-foot long tunnel they had dug inside a makeshift latrine.
Odel Roberts, Rayon Jones and Jamal Forde were nabbed yesterday evening along the Agriculture Road, Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara, while Teshawn McKenzie and Winston Long were captured near the Route 44 bus park in Georgetown.
A few hours later, Jamal Joseph and Jason Howard were captured in North East La Penitence.
But up to late last night, a heavily-armed joint services team was still scouring the East Coast Demerara backlands and other areas for the six other fugitives – Clive Forde, Kerry Cromwell, Pascal Smith, Kendall Skeete, Paul Goriah and Shawn Harris.
They are also still to capture four other escapees from the Georgetown Prison jailbreak – Mark Royden Williams called ‘Smallie’, Stafrei Hopkinson Alexander, Uree Varswyck and Desmond James, who escaped just over two weeks ago after killing a prison warden and burning almost every section of the penitentiary to the ground.
Nine of the Lusignan escapees are on murder charges, two on charges of robbery under arms, one for grievous bodily harm and one for discharging a loaded firearm.
Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan stated that the massive jailbreak was only discovered at around 7 a.m. yesterday, when prison wardens carrying out a routine count, determined that 13 prisoners were unaccounted for.
“Further checks revealed that a tunnel was dug and tracks were found leading towards the Lusignan Backlands. Police sources have said that ranks hunting the fugitives are at a disadvantage, since several hours had elapsed before the jailbreak was discovered.
President David Granger later called a special emergency meeting of the National Security Committee at the Joint Service Operations Centre, where he was briefed on the jailbreak.
“The massive Joint Services Operations codenamed ‘Clean Sweep’ has been intensified to recapture these 13 fugitives plus the other four who escaped from the Camp Street Prison,” Ramjattan said in his statement.
“There are 17 fugitives at large and I ask for your full cooperation in their recapture. Wanted bulletins have been issued and the harbouring of these criminals is a serious offence and anyone found to be assisting them will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.”
Ramjattan stated that there will be increased security both at Lusignan and Camp St, inclusive of improvements of the security infrastructure, more perimeter patrols, surveillance lights and cameras and continued clearing of the surrounding areas.
“Once again we apologise to the public for the inconvenience which this massive joint services manhunt will result in.
The security services are utilizing every means and resource at their disposal to recapture the fugitives. This relentless pursuit and unrelenting effort will stop at nothing until every single one of these fugitives is recaptured.
I urge you again to report all relevant information to the police and this will be treated with the strictest confidentiality.”
Among yesterday’s escapees, those accused of murder are Clive Forde, Kerry Cromwell, Pascal Smith, Odel Roberts, Kendall Skeete, Paul Goriah, Jamal Forde, Jason Howard, and Shawn Harris. Teshawn McKenzie and Winston Long are charged with armed robbery, while Jamal Joseph was charged for inflicting grievous bodily harm, and Rayon Jones for discharging a loaded firearm.
Recaptured 22-year-old Jason Howard also called ‘Smelly,’ is accused of a horrific double murder, attempted murder, and a string of armed robberies. He was considered to be the most dangerous of the escapees.