By Constantinos Psillides
POLICE were left rather red-faced yesterday after a massive sweep in the Larnaca district involving 27 search warrants and 150 officers yielded only one loaded gun and a single court remand out of 12 arrests.
Armed with the 27 search warrants, the 150 officers from different units launched the sweep early in the morning. It initially led to 12 people suspected of having ties to organised crime.
However the force was left defending its actions when the operation turned up only one loaded gun, a loaded clip and a taser, and resulted in one remand.
According to Larnaca police spokesman Charalambos Zachariou, the operation commenced at 5am and during the home searches found a numbers of suspect items that could be used as weapons such as wooden bats. Some small amounts of narcotics were also found.
The best ‘find’ was a loaded pistol, found in the house of a 40-year-old from Kornos village in the Larnaca district. Both the 40-year-old and his 33-year-old wife were arrested and taken before the Larnaca District Court.
The man was remanded for six days. According to the police, the pistol found was a 9mm Beretta, loaded with six bullets. Along with pistol, officers also found a clip loaded with 11 more bullets, and a taser gun.
According to police the woman, who was home alone at the time, called her husband who then demanded to speak with the officers. He told them to leave his wife alone and that the items found belonged to him.
The 40-year old returned to the house at around 8.30am and was subsequently arrested.
Officers also searched his car but found nothing suspicious. Another car found near the residence was not initially searched after the suspect claimed that it did not belong to him.
The wife had previously told officers that the car did in fact belong to her husband and gave them the number of the dealership. Police subsequently confirmed the car was his, and sought a new search warrant, keeping the vehicle under guard until it was cleared.
Technicians also took footage from cameras installed in the couple’s home.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides deflected criticism that the raids had been essentially unsuccessful, given the minuscule amount of evidence collected.
“We had valid information. We had some of these individuals under surveillance and all of them had run-ins with the police before,” he told CyBC.
“We thought that the best course of action was to issue search warrants and raid their homes when we were least expected. You say that only a gun was found. I say that the police found and confiscated an illegal firearm and a number of other potential murder weapons.”