Detectives from the Counter-Terrorism and Organized Crime Investigations Branch (CTOC) have uncovered an illegal cooking gas distribution site in Portmore, St. Catherine.

Detectives swooped down on an area near Christian Gardens, St. Catherine about 11:30 a.m. on Friday, June 11, where they observed two gas tankers along with a fully retrofitted space for refilling cooking gas cylinders. The space was fitted with pressure gauges, high-end scales and fire safety equipment.

The two tankers and several gas cylinders were seized and the operation shut down. Detectives also seized branded seals of at least two major gas distribution companies and took one man into custody for questioning. 

Assistant Superintendent Victor Barrett,  head of CTOC’s Intellectual Property Unit noted that the operation was quite sophisticated but said preliminary checks indicated that no permits had been obtained for the operation.

He explained that cooking gas refilling operations must be licensed by the National Environmental Planning Agency once the capacity of the facility exceeds 18,000 litres. One of the tankers seized holds approximately 50,000 litres. 

He said additional permits from the relevant municipal authority and the fire department are also needed. New companies seeking to establish operations independent of existing operators must first obtain a licence from the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology. 

ASP Barrett explained further established companies must give permission for their cooking gas cylinders to be distributed or refilled by another company. 

He said the team will be deepening their investigation in the coming week, as they seek to uncover the source of the gas being distributed and any other breaches that may have occurred.