Teen ‘fisherman’ trapped in Venezuela

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Rafeeqe Haniff

[Trinidad Express] – A Barrackpore mother is pleading with the authorities to help her get her son out of Venezuela.

Debbie Haniff says her son was unknowingly taken to Venezuela on Ash Wednesday and is currently being held against his will in Tucupita.

“This week would make it 14 weeks since Rafeeqe along with two other men were taken to Venezuela by the owner of a fishing boat and he’s not being allowed to return home.

“I’ve spoken to him on the phone and via Whatsapp messages and he said he never knew that the boat was going to Venezuela. He also said when they arrived in Venezuela they were held as the boat had drugs aboard it, which he was not aware of.”

Based on the conversations she has had with her son, Haniff does not believe he has been charged or convicted of any crime and while he claims he’s in the Guasina prison, the photos he sent does not look anything like a prison cell. She said he has also indicated that he is surrounded by “plenty cocaine and marijuana” on a daily basis.

The worried mother believes her son is being detained by bad people.

“The last time we spoke he said he’s not getting anything to eat and that he’s fed up with what he’s facing. It appears that he has become suicidal as he sent me a photo with him holding a gun to his head with the message ‘I’m going to kill myself.”

Haniff said her son, who lives at San Francique, Woodland is 19 years old and has never been involved in any illegal activity his entire life.

“If there were drugs on the boat then it doesn’t belong to my son,” Haniff said.

She also claimed she had spoken with the boat owner, a man she only knows by the alias ‘Poto’, via phone and he became very abusive, shouting that he “never put no f……gun to anyone head” to take them to Venezuela.

“Whenever he calls we don’t get to speak for any length of time because someone always takes the phone away from him. How could he be in prison and have access to guns, drugs and a cell phone,” Haniff questioned.

Haniff said she reported the matter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was given the assurance that an investigation would be conducted, but she’s yet to get any feedback from them.

When Express contacted the ministry we were told the person handling the investigation was sent on an overseas assignment and that someone else would assume the responsibility of conducting the investigation.

“I just want my son back home,” Haniff said.