Since last year, T&T Police Service (TTPS) and T&T Defence Force (TTDF) members have profited more than half-a-million dollars in “hush money” from the Drugs Sou Sou (DSS) operations based at Kathleen Warner Drive in La Horquetta.
Their financial reward was not only for the protection of the DSS operations but for their alleged willingness to facilitate corruption and bribery, according to the information given to Sunday Guardian by key DSS insiders.
In a document, DSS insiders pointed fingers at senior TTPS and TTDF officers, naming them and in some cases outlining in detail their roles in facilitating the multi-million dollar operation which is now the subject of at least three probes by TTPS and TTDF hierarchy, after money seized in a raid on the DSS operation, initially said to be $22 million, was returned to its CEO Kerron Clarke by junior officers of the La Horquetta Police Station without authorisation. Later, a DSS insider claimed police had seized as much as $92 million during the operation.
DSS insiders stated that “… the officers are involved in corruption, bribery and much more. This goes high up the food chain. And it seems as though they are untouchable.”
Sunday Guardian understands that the information contained in these documents have also been sent to the police for them to investigate the claims.
The DSS insiders explained the inner details of the police officers’ roles in helping to ensure the smooth operation of their venture and thwart law enforcement efforts to uncover and bust it. The officers ensured patrols around the clock for the DSS headquarters and in some instances security there.
“(Name of officer of the TTPS executive called) has been part and parcel of the operation and receiving money as payments (to look out and protect DSS) over the period of 2019 and up to this date (name called) has received $240,000 in cash. Not all at once,” the DSS document said.
The DSS insiders disclosed that a particular inspector was very close with the TTPS executive officer when it comes to the running of the DSS operations.
“He would oversee and report back to (executive officer) as time goes by. Inspector (name called) would often have patrols set up on a regular basis to ensure that things run smoothly,” revealed the DSS document.
Senior police sources told Sunday Guardian that for years, this particular inspector and a TTPS executive member have been suspected of running other illicit operations inside the police service, including extortion, bribery and money laundering schemes.
Another senior officer whom they believe was instrumental in ensuring that the purported $22 million or $92 million seized from DSS was released from the La Horquetta Police Station two Tuesdays ago, just hours after it was seized in the raid, has also been fingered as a major player in ensuring the DSS operations run smoothly.
“(Name of a senior Northern Division officer called) was also part of this operation from the late part of 2019 up to this date. And he received payments of $83,000 during the period.”
But the police officers’ complicity does not end there.
DSS insiders claimed senior officers handed down instructions to their juniors.
“Junior officers were also involved in such ranks from sergeants, corporals, and police constables. Inspector (named called) would often have someone (lower-ranked officer) pick up the cash and later on disburse it or in other words split it up,” the DSS insiders claimed.
The DSS insiders revealed that “sergeants, corporals and constables were paid on a daily and sometimes on a weekly basis at the amount of $2000-$3000 per day.”
They alleged that the inspector used a particular business as a front “to cover most of his money schemes.”
DSS insiders stated that two TTPS executive officers who were working together to protect their operations have also been working to undermine Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith.
DSS insiders claimed in the document that “the Commissioner has a mole in his team and he should do due diligence to investigate or even question each of them.”
They claimed that they have several phone recordings, videos and photographs that would also be critical in assisting investigators involved in this wide-reaching case.
The document stated, “(TTPS executive officer name called) using the phone number (6******) to have conversations with (TTPS executive officer name called) on (7******). And also (another senior Northern Division officer name called, but phone number not revealed) would have had recent conversations in recent days to undermine the officer of the CoP as soon as he goes on vacation.”
Griffith confirmed during last week’s TTPS press briefing that one of the reasons he cancelled his vacation was because they had received intelligence that there was a plot to undermine the service in his absence.
The document further alleged that “phone calls were made to senior TTDF members (one colonel’s name called), three captains (names called), a major and two other seniors (names called).”
The DSS insiders said, “These are all members who are in the cabal.”
They did not give further details about the TTDF members but promised that further information about their complicity in the DSS operations would be released in due course.
During the TTPS press briefing on Thursday, Griffith also told the media he cancelled his vacation to ensure the DSS investigation receives his full attention. He said this decision was made after meeting with the Minister of National Security and Police Service Commission (PSC).
Griffith has vowed to bring down corrupt police officers and TTDF members who have been involved in one way or the other in illicit operations surrounding the DSS operations.
Commenting on the matter, Griffith said he appointed DCP McDonald Jacob to lead the investigation. “I appointed DCP Jacob to lead this. The investigation via PSB. The financial via FIB. And the UK team would assist in the legislative arm of the invsetigation whch they are well versed in as it pertains to white collar crime.”