Almost two weeks after police first raided the Drugs Sou-Sou headquarters in La Horquetta, owner Kerron Clarke reached out to Police Commissioner Gary Griffith through a confidential informant asking for asylum for himself and his family and immunity in exchange for exposing crooked police officers and soldiers who have been involved in DSS operations.
Responding to claims in another daily newspaper, Griffith said, “He asked to meet with only me and wanted to give information on rogue police officers and soldiers. He asked for immunity and I indicated to him that I would have to discuss with the DPP. He said then that his life was threatened.”
Griffith said before he left the country on vacation, Clarke had agreed to meet with him and hand over crucial information that could link crooked law enforcement personnel involved in the DSS investigation. On the evening of the meeting, however, Clarke cancelled on him.
“He had planned to hand over CDs and recordings and other information about the police officers and soldiers with DSS and that same night a legal officer from the Defence Force met with him and for three hours they spent speaking to him and caused him to change his mind.”
The confidential informant, whom Guardian Media was in touch with several times, said he and Clarke met thereafter and Clarke gave him (informant) a document that was later given to Griffith. The informant sent us several screen grabs of conversations he had been having with Clarke on this matter.
“On that document, he gave all the names of the police officers and soldiers as well as a former government minister and two sittings MPs that had some involvement in putting money into the DSS,” Griffith revealed.
“Clarke wanted to see me and any evidence that he gave to me, I was giving it to the UK and Bajan investigators and not to the TTPS directly. In fact, he was willing to give as much information as possible.”
Griffith, who was speaking a day after officers raided the DSS operations a second time and seized cash, receipt books and other documents, said this approach was necessary since only recently they found out that two former Deputy Commissioners of Police were also involved.
“We have phone records and other information where these senior officers were speaking to the officers at the La Horquetta Police Station when the money came in on Tuesday, September 21 and when it was later released. At no time was the Commissioner told about these conversations.”
Griffith clarified that during a WhatsApp meeting on October 19, and not October 21 as reported by another daily, he did indicate he was not concerned with people putting money into DSS at that point but rather how people were receiving money and those officers who were working with him who were facing disciplinary action as they had no permission to “moonlight.”
“I also wanted the names of officers who were putting money into DSS,” Griffith said.
Griffith added, “If someone is a moneylender, that people who decide to invest money in something, that is not a crime. Even when they went to Tobago, the police could not have arrested or stopped that activity but we could only disperse the crowd based on the COVID-19 regulations.
“So people who want to invest money, that is not a crime. The Police Commissioner continues to say you cannot police stupidity. If people want to invest money and there is a very good chance of a pyramid scheme that is going to collapse and people lose their money, that is when the police could get involved, because that is when fraud could take place. It’s when people decide to invest money and do not get their returns. When people are investing money and are getting money at the top of the pyramid, that obviously will not be a crime. However, there are other matters that are being investigated, such as how the money is being received. If it is that the profit is through illegal means and if it is that the person that is involved has the documentation to be a money lender.”
During the meeting on October 19, Clarke admitted to Griffith that he had been paying several police officers and soldiers and also that rogue elements had also invested in DSS, “but they don’t come themselves.”
Clarke said there were multiple names and mentioned at least one of the names. Clarke claimed he was unaware the police officers needed permission from the Police Commissioner before they could “moonlight” for him in any capacity. Griffith clarified too that this was a breach of police regulations.
Griffith said he a feeling the conversation was being taped and said when Clarke raised the matter of his pending FUL license, he gave him a frank enough response.
Clarke reportedly said he was a walking target because everyone believes he has money and indicated the application was pending for close to four years.
“I said clearly that would not be considered at this time as he is being investigated. When this is closed his application would be considered. He asked for asylum because of police and TTDF involvement and this is why he wanted the firearm,” Griffith said in a response to Guardian Media via WhatsApp early Wednesday.
On the urging of the confidential source, Clarke promised to furnish the information to Griffith’s email address, which was to be provided to him by a Guardian Media investigative journalist. To date, Griffith said he had not received any email from Clarke.
The confidential informant then contacted Clarke via phone, added the investigative journalist, who then added Griffith in a four-way call in which Clarke and Griffith spoke for the majority of the time to organise the passing on of the information. Clarke eventually agreed to send vital information to the investigation but is yet to do so.
Guardian Media asked questions through the confidential informant about why Clarke would renege on the agreement after insisting on calling the meeting with Griffith to do so. Clarke reportedly told the source that “he was fed up and all he wanted now was his FUL.”
Griffith said there is also an active investigation in which a senior member of the DSS sent someone to an officer indicating that they were willing to pay up to $175,000 to fast track a FUL request.