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.
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