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Heavily armed men attack Trinidad-owned tug at Grantley Waldron’s sand concession

Heavily armed men early Monday morning staged a daring attack on a Trinidad-owned tug, shattering its navigational equipment and threatening to burn the vessel that is here to collect a shipment of sand to take to St. Lucia, sources said.

The incident occurred aboard the Motor Tug Seven Mako near Dr. Grantley Waldron’s sand mining concession at Sand Hills, about 15 miles from Timehri Docks, from where the first shipment of sand from that location was due to be loaded.

The Antigua and Barbuda-registered MT Seven Mako is owned by the Trinidad-based Coastal Shipping. The vessel arrived here on January 16 with a consignment of stone.

Sources said six pirates arrived by speed boat and entered the tug about 12:30 Monday morning. “They mashed up all the navigational equipment and destroyed the cabins and took away all the valuables they had,” the source said. The company would have to repair or replace the equipment before the tug could depart for St. Lucia with the estimated 5,000 tons of sand.

Waldron dismissed suggestions that the incident was a pirate attack and he suggested that it might have been linked to failed legal efforts to get him off the concession. He won a court case in December 2013 that now in essence gives him uninhibited rights to mine sand in the area. “it doesn’t look like piracy. It looks like pure terrorism and vandalism,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

The sand miner- exporter plans to beef up security for vessels arriving at his concession, in the wake of this incident. Waldron said that prior to entering the vessel, the men tied up two security guards who were armed with batons.

The sources said the six-member crew- five Guyanese and one Dominican- were forced to lie face down while the men smashed millions of dollars worth of satellite identification, three GPS, Echo Sounder and other vital navigational equipment.  The men carted off with US$400, GUY$75,000, cellular phones and personal items. The perpetrators broke down the cabin doors and gathered all the crew members in one location where they were ordered to lie down.

No one was injured by the Guyanese men who were armed with long guns and hand guns that all appeared brand new. “They just came to that boat, did that damage and went away,” said the source. They kept demanding drugs and money, police sources said.

The men then threw gasoline around the vessel and threatened to burn it, according to sources.

Waldron vowed not give up on a business that he started at least 20 years ago.