Central Division cops link SORT to ammo find

Five po­lice of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing two se­nior of­fi­cers, of the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion are now the sub­ject of a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter they al­leged­ly tried to fab­ri­cate ev­i­dence against four se­nior mem­bers of the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Re­sponse Team (SORT).

The in­ci­dent comes on the heels of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the elite unit con­cern­ing al­le­ga­tions of bribery and leak­ing sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion against Cen­tral Di­vi­sion of­fi­cers.

 

SORT is one of the units ap­point­ed by Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith to lead high-pro­file in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The unit has been suc­cess­ful in re­cov­er­ing kid­nap vic­tims, un­cov­er­ing large amounts of guns and drugs. It com­pris­es po­lice and sol­diers whose iden­ti­ties are usu­al­ly con­cealed.

Se­nior po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors said the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion of­fi­cers went to the premis­es of San­itec Lim­it­ed, lo­cat­ed at Las Lo­mas No 2, in Cen­tral Trinidad on June 24 at 8.30 am to search for arms and am­mu­ni­tion.

The of­fi­cers searched the premis­es and lat­er found am­mu­ni­tion shells that were sort­ed in­to at least ten con­tain­ers, three of which were in a truck and the re­main­der in an in­dus­tri­al con­tain­er.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors say the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion of­fi­cers ques­tioned at least eight of the em­ploy­ees as to how they had come in­to pos­ses­sion of the spent shells and whether there were any live rounds of am­mu­ni­tion on the premis­es. A se­nior em­ploy­ee took the po­lice of­fi­cers to an of­fice and showed them 12 rounds of live am­mu­ni­tion.

Af­ter pho­tographs were tak­en of the premis­es and shells, the se­nior em­ploy­ee told po­lice that the com­pa­ny had been con­tract­ed to re­trieve and dis­pose of the bul­let cas­ings from the shoot­ing range in Ch­aguara­mas. The se­nior em­ploy­ee al­so ex­plained to the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion of­fi­cers that the com­pa­ny had been con­tract­ed to trans­port the shells to its premis­es where they would be sort­ed and in­cin­er­at­ed.

Guardian Me­dia was in­formed that the com­pa­ny was ap­proved by the Unit­ed States En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency and al­so lo­cal­ly cer­ti­fied by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Au­thor­i­ty (EMA). The com­pa­ny al­so treats with bio-haz­ard threats in­clud­ing ex­plo­sive, chem­i­cal, bi­o­log­i­cal and ra­dioac­tive waste.

The em­ploy­ees of the com­pa­ny who in­clud­ed five Trinida­di­ans, one Cuban, a Venezue­lan and a Niger­ian were lat­er de­tained. Po­lice al­so im­pound­ed the truck with the shells.

The em­ploy­ees were tak­en to Egypt Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment in En­ter­prise where they were kept in a room of a du­plex for close to 48 hours be­fore they were tak­en to the Ch­agua­nas Po­lice Sta­tion, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said. The em­ploy­ees were on­ly re­leased last Thurs­day night with­out charge.

How­ev­er, a se­nior of­fi­cer of the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion ap­proached the DPP last Wednes­day with in­for­ma­tion claim­ing the four se­nior of­fi­cers of SORT had been al­leged­ly in­volved in il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties -by trans­fer­ring am­mu­ni­tion to the com­pa­ny.

Ac­cord­ing to in­ves­ti­ga­tors the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion po­lice of­fi­cers al­leged­ly at­tempt­ed to co­erce the em­ploy­ees to give state­ments im­pli­cat­ing the SORT of­fi­cers in an al­leged cor­rupt prac­tice.

Se­nior in­ves­ti­ga­tors told Guardian Me­dia that the Cen­tral of­fi­cers by­passed the Head of the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion, DCP for Op­er­a­tions, ACP for Crime, the Le­gal Unit of the Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice and the Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice and ap­proached the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions di­rect­ly - which is in con­tra­ven­tion of a de­part­men­tal or­der signed by Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith on April 17, of this year.

That de­part­men­tal or­der states, “Head of de­part­ments, branch units shall not per­mit le­gal of­fi­cers, po­lice of­fi­cers and in­ves­ti­ga­tors to sub­mit re­ports and cor­re­spon­dence di­rect­ly to the DPP with­out first sub­mit­ting same to Di­rec­tor of Le­gal Unit for his sub­se­quent ap­proach.”

“They did not fol­low pro­ce­dure and at­tempt­ed to mis­lead peo­ple by re­fus­ing to send the file first to the le­gal unit,” a se­nior po­lice source in­di­cat­ed.

When Guardian Me­dia reached out to the DPP via What­sApp he would on­ly say, “I am aware that a cer­tain in­ves­ti­ga­tion is tak­ing place.

Don’t wish to say any more at this stage.”

Se­nior po­lice sources say they lat­er learned that the al­le­ga­tions made against the SORT of­fi­cers were un­found­ed and there was no ev­i­dence to sug­gest any wrong­do­ing.

An in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion has since been ini­ti­at­ed against the five of­fi­cers of the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors fa­mil­iar with the case told Guardian Me­dia of­fi­cers of the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion are the sub­ject of an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion by of­fi­cers of SORT since mid-Feb­ru­ary of this year.

“In­for­ma­tion was ob­tained about the be­hav­iour of cer­tain of­fi­cers whom we be­lieve have been on the take from un­der­world fig­ures and have been leak­ing in­for­ma­tion to them,” re­vealed a high-rank­ing in­tel­li­gence source who has been kept abreast of that on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Reporter: Mark Bassant

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