Police Commissioner Gary Griffith believes there are trojan horses within the T&T Police Service (TTPS) that have moved to block, misdirect and withhold information from him regarding the investigations into the $22 million Drugs Sou Sou (DSS) pyramid scheme.
During an interview on i95.5 FM yesterday, Griffith admitted that was the latest development involving a probe by the T&T Police Service (TTPS) into DSS which commenced last week.
The La Horquetta raid which was coordinated by Griffith’s elite Special Operations Response Team (SORT) and the Financial Intelligence Bureau netted $22 million in cash.
Hours after the money was taken to the La Horquetta Police Station it was returned to the DSS operator Kerron Clarke unknown to Griffith who ordered an investigation.
Clarke is an active member of the T&T Defence Force (TTDF).
Griffith said while the police officers are not perfect, they are expected to uphold a higher standard.
“In this investigation there are several senior police officers who have been named and we are now investigating them. We are now looking at all different aspects. When you have senior officers involved in… gentlemen, hear the name, Drugs Sou Sou. Really! That is an interesting name. And we have police officers involved. And I have been blocked…misdirected…information is not being given.”
Pressed as to who gave the instructions to return the $22 million, Griffith did not say.
“There are a few senior officers involved. That matter is being dealt with. They have cross threaded…. Everyone is pointing fingers at everyone.”
He said he was not impressed by their actions.
“It was totally unbecoming…because you could never get receipts and check it within an hour to equate $22 million.”
Griffith admitted that these senior officers have since been questioned.
“I have already engaged the PCA (Police Complaints Authority). I need the PCA on this. I really do not know who is the trojan horse in my own camp… in this type of investigation. I need to make sure there is proper transparency and I need support.”
Griffith said the PCA has already received reports of all individuals who have been questioned.
“And we are seeing a lot of misinformation…persons giving different pieces of information on others.”
Promising to deal with the matter, Griffith could not say if at the end of the investigation disciplinary action or criminal charges would take place.
“Whatever happened the ball was dropped either by incompetence or criminal activity.”
He said it has reached a point where he has to virtually “micro manage” situations and spoon feed individuals which he should not be doing.
Under his watch, Griffith said 80 officers have been suspended, 60 arrested for different crimes and 20 dismissed for violent crimes, stating that no badge or uniform will protect an officer from wrongdoing.
TTDF member caught on camera
Griffith also clarified a published report (not T&T Guardian) that a police officer in the raid was caught on videotape stuffing what appeared to be a stash of cash into his tactical uniform.
He said the man in the video being circulated was a TTDF member who was part of the police-led operation. He said that individual has already been identified.
In an interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Griffith said there was a deliberate agenda by some to stop him because it was big money and big business involved, stating that they needed to justify that the cash was not obtained through ill-gotten gains.
“Let us look and make sure that the receipts that can go in line with the $22 million and the persons who gave the receipts that they got it from legitimate means. I could have easily sat back. If something is wrong, I will deal with it. I could have done like other commissioners …not touch certain things…leave it alone and let it run. That is not the way I have been brought up.”
Unfazed by public ‘attacks’
Griffith said the TTPS has intelligence to verify that the vast majority of money laundering “washing of money for the drug trade through gangs and other criminal enterprises is through fronts being used now for the pyramid scheme. So, we are looking at probably hundreds of millions of dollars being siphoned and circulated through these fronts.”
On top of this, he said some people had the audacity to attack him, which showed there are more criminals than law-abiding citizens in T&T.
“I intend to fight back. I don’t intend to step on their toes anymore. I intend to crush it because we have to put an end to criminal activity. The persons who are speaking the loudest, watch them! I have trojan horses in my own police service.”
Meanwhile in a release yesterday, Griffith said a thorough investigation will be conducted by the TTPS to determine if the TTDF member committed any criminal act during the raid.
“The TTPS will investigate this incident to ascertain what was in the envelope and if evidence was removed without authorisation by the TTDF personnel.”
He said the unfortunate incident has labelled the TTPS in a negative light.
“It would seem that the public wants the blood of the police and not the criminals.”
“Regardless who took the envelope, this was a police-led operation, so the TTPS is responsible. And just as it is being done to ascertain if the $22 million in cash discovered was acquired from legitimate means and just as an investigation is ongoing to ascertain why would senior officers return such money without the proper process, likewise, this latest development would also be thoroughly investigated.”
“When I started to launch this type of investigation, I was told that I would be going into unchartered waters and would be stepping on large toes, inclusive of big criminal business, gangs who use such systems to launder funds acquired from the drug trade, and also senior law enforcement personnel who would be involved and used as cover for the transportation and securing of such funds.”
Griffith said the “desperate attempt to get him to back off and even shift focus from the real mastermind criminals is not now surprising.
“Which reasonable, honest person would believe that $22 million stacked in a house is no cause for reasonable suspicion as well as the manner in which the money was stacked, being under beds, in cardboard boxes and on shelves.”
Calls and messages left for Chief of Defence Staff Air Commodore Darryl Daniel on the issue were not returned.