The Government’s resort to bringing police investigators from Barbados and Britain to investigate the “Drugs Sou Sou” case is a sad but sensible development.
It is a sad indictment of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, but sensible in accepting the need for external assistance in dealing with a potentially serious problem.
There are too many disturbing elements in the DSS scheme and the disastrous police intervention for it to be allowed to become just another odd and unsolved case that drifts away into nothingness. The authorities cannot turn a blind eye to a scheme that is being run and managed by a member of the Defence Force, brazenly named “Drugs Sou Sou”, with a pot calculated at $22 million purportedly involving hundreds of “investors”. They also cannot ignore the fiasco of the collapse of the police investigation.
The TTPS must account for the failure of its investigation which fell apart in a confusion of allegations of theft, questions about the legality of the police raid, and the return of the seized $22 million to the scheme manager amid vociferous and public objections by the Commissioner of Police. There is too much here that warrants investigation for the case to be allowed to wither away either because of ineptitude, corruption or other reasons. One way or another, the facts need to be ascertained, whether they clear everyone or result in prosecutions. If there was a case to be made against DSS, it was not helped by the manner in which the entire investigation was conducted.
It is therefore noteworthy that in announcing the decision to bring in external investigators, there was no suggestion by the Government that the initiative was taken either on the request of the Commissioner of Police or in consultation with him. Prime Minister Dr Rowley said he reached out to the government of Barbados and to the British government under a 2018 Memorandum of Understanding. While Commissioner Gary Griffith subsequently welcomed the move, he must know what it means when a policing decision is taken above his head.
It is nonetheless wise of him to offer full co-operation. Under the Police Act of 2006, the Commissioner does have authority which, if exercised negatively in this case, could complicate the Government’s attempt to untangle the knots involving DSS and the police. The public interest requires the Government and the TTPS to be at one on this.
Commissioner Griffith would recall his statement regarding the National Security Council’s (NSC) authority in addressing Parliament in 2014 in his then capacity as Minister of National Security. Responding to questions by then Opposition Leader Dr Rowley, he disclosed that Cabinet had agreed to delegate decision-making authority to the NSC in respect of matters which in the opinion of the Prime Minister and chairman of the NSC impinged upon the national security of T&T. This is the precise ground cited by PM Dr Rowley in seeking the assistance of foreign police.
Conducted with due respect for lines of responsibility and authority, we look forward to full details about the scope and timeline of this investigation and, particularly, its outcome.