Cops get court order to detain DSS $6.4m

An Arima magistrate has granted a detention order application for the $6.4 million in cash which members of the T&T Police Service (TTPS) seized as part of their investigation into the Drugs Sou-Sou (DSS) operations.

A senior source close to the investigation told Guardian Media yesterday that the application was made after officers from the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) and Financial Investigations Branch (FIB) conducted a second raid on the DSS headquarters on Tuesday under the coordination of the Barbadian and UK investigators who have come into T&T to assist with the probe.

Sources told Guardian Media that the virtual application was made before Arima Magistrate Cheron Raphael, who heard evidence from the officers in the matter. Raphael later granted a detention order for the money for a period of three months under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

If the high-powered team of investigators assigned to the investigation need more time to detain the money at the end of the three-month period, they will have to apply to the magistrate and give a justifiable reason why the money should be kept for a longer period or return to its owner.

The money will be detained by the FIB as the investigations continue into this case.

Senior sources familiar with the investigation said after the seizure of the money on Tuesday, DSS CEO Kerron Clarke was interviewed on Wednesday in the presence of his attorney Sophia Chote. However, Clarke had no comment when questioned by investigators.

During the second DSS raid on Tuesday, PSB officers also seized hundreds of receipt books, documents containing line payments to thousands of individuals and other pertinent documents that could assist investigators.

The DSS was first raided on September 21 by officers of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) and some $22 million was reportedly taken to the La Horquetta Police Station.

However, the money, the amount of which was never verified because police did not complete counting the seized cash, was released hours later to Clarke by junior police officers from the station who were not authorised to do so.

Police are also investigating the behaviour of a member of the T&T Defence Force who was caught on camera during the first raid stuffing money into his tactical uniform. The FIB is also investigating the source of DSS funds.

At least four officers have been suspended and 10 others transferred to other divisions as the probe continues.


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