Lead Editor, Investigative Desk
Four police officers, including two seniors, have been suspended and 11 others transferred by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith as part of the ongoing investigation into last month’s Drug Sou Sou (DSS) raid in La Horquetta.
All the officers were allegedly involved in providing paid protection to the DSS members and also allegedly had a hand in allowing the purported $22 million that was seized by officers to be released back into the hands of CEO Kerron Clarke—without proper checks done to verify the source of the funds.
“It was negligence and a poor decision-making process that led to the money being handed over without procedure and it perhaps points to the direct involvement of these officers,” one senior police source said of the September 22 incident.
The four police officers who were suspended, according to information obtained by Guardian Media, were an acting assistant superintendent, an acting inspector, an acting corporal and a constable.
Four other constables were transferred out of the Northern Division and seven Special Reserve Police (SRP) officers were relocated from the eastern sector of the Northern Division to the western sector of the said division.
Senior police sources have also indicated that the finances of the acting inspector, who operates a business, are being probed by police. The finances of other officers are also being scrutinised.
In a media release yesterday, Griffith said he had ordered the removal of the officers “to allow the entire probe to be conducted in the most transparent manner.” Griffith said based on preliminary investigations it had become necessary to suspend some officers and transfer others.
Sources close to the investigation told Guardian Media that ever since the probe began, “there were certain senior officers deliberately trying to railroad the investigation.”
“There was a particular senior officer not directly involved in the investigation making constant calls to find out what was happening with the investigation,” the source said.
In fact, sources said the particular senior officer is related to someone affiliated to DSS.
The three-pronged investigation has led Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) members to not only investigate the officers but a Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) member who was part of the joint operation and was captured on CCTV footage stuffing what appeared to be money into his tactical uniform during the raid.
Since then, PSB officers have questioned and released at least four TTDF members in relation to the investigation into the theft of money during the raid on the DSS base.
The TTDF sent out a release a few weeks ago indicating they were co-operating with the police in their investigation and conducting a parallel internal investigation into the soldiers who may have been involved in facilitating the DSS operation.
Guardian Media had reported exclusively over the last few weeks about the alleged police and army involvement in facilitating the DSS operations over a period of time and of officers and soldiers collecting protection money for their services.
There is also another investigation being conducted by the Financial Investigations Branch (FIB) to ascertain the source of the DSS funds.
The Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) had also asked Griffith to look into allegations of abuse of civilians by officers of SORT during the raid and he has given assurance this will also be looked into.
The investigations are being spearheaded by a team under the supervision of Acting Deputy Commissioner (Intelligence and Investigations) Mc Donald Jacob.