PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Tuesday January 7, 2020 – A lawyer and three other people were granted bail when they appeared in court yesterday charged in connection with the human trafficking bust at a church rehab facility three months ago.
The court appearance of 37-year-old civil attorney, Lena Jaggernauth – who is accused of human trafficking – came three days after her mother, Indra Jaggernath, and Pastor Glen Awong of Transformed Life Ministry (TLM) appeared in court on similar charges.
She was granted TT$150,000 (US$22,177) bail. Also appearing in court with her yesterday were two TLM employees – Robert Andrews, 70, and Anthony Marchan, 74 – and Cheryl Kalicharan Beharry, the mother of one of the men rescued from the rehab centre. All three were charged with human trafficking and kidnapping while Beharry was additionally accused of false imprisonment, and they were each released on TT$200,000 (US$29,563) bail.
When the elder Jaggernauth appeared in court last Friday, she was jointly charged with the pastor, her employer, with keeping people under exploitative conditions, contrary to the Trafficking against Persons Act. Pastor Awong was also separately charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment.
He was released on TT$900,000 (US$133,034) bail, while his co-accused was granted TT$300,000 (US$44,344) bail.
Last October, police carried out a sting operation at Transformed Life Ministry’s rehabilitation centre in Arouca, where they said they had unearthed “modern-day slavery” and rescued 69 people.
According to police, the 65 men and four women, from young people to the elderly, some of whom had been there for several years, were all held captive and most of them were in cages and some in handcuffs.
At the time, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service had “cracked probably what is one of the biggest situations pertaining to human trafficking” in the twin-island republic.