Police Commissioner Gary Griffith says police officers are involved in the multi-million dollar La Horquetta pyramid scheme called the Drugs Sou Sou and may even have facilitated the return of millions of dollars seized on Tuesday to the operators.
In a live interview in the CNC3 7 pm newscast last night, Griffith said he intends to fully investigate why officers at the La Horquetta Police Station allowed nine people who were arrested on Tuesday to leave the station in the early hours of yesterday with over $22 million in cash seized during the raid on Tuesday.
Griffith was caught unaware yesterday after the nine arrested suspects were released with the money. Speaking on a radio interview during the morning, Griffith had said the cash was still being counted. But hours later in a release, Griffith said the T&T Police Service would launch an investigation into who authorised the releases. He said neither himself, his Deputy Commissioners nor the TTPS’ Financial Intelligence Bureau were aware of the decision.
Asked how this could have happened on CNC3 last night, Griffith said, “There is very little to explain…we messed up, we cannot take $22 million in cash and return that hours later.”
Griffith said the money could not have been counted in such a short time, there was no receipt made out for the money to confirm the amount returned and the money was not checked for any counterfeit bills.
“This does not stop here, I intend to continue to pursue this matter,” he said.
Special Operations Response Team (SORT) officers stand guard outside the Drugs Sou Sou on Kathleen Warner Drive, La Horquetta after police returned to the area yesterday.
He again warned that when DSS collapses, thousands of people will lose their money, as he said when one person pays in $10,000 and is paid out $50,000, five other people would have to lose their money.
“People are saying that I should leave this alone but wait for it, as the Minister of National Security said, when the mark buss in two months or so, tens of thousands of people who are at the bottom of the pyramid and would have lost their tens of thousands of dollars will come crying to the same Gary Griffith.”
He confirmed there are police officers involved in the scheme, adding the bigger issue was that officers were complicit in getting the money back to the DSS administrators while an investigation was ongoing.
“When you have $22 million in cash, the police must be able to ascertain that all the proceeds you got from this $22 million are legit - so you can’t just bring receipts and link the receipts, you have to look at the receipts. Suppose somebody had a receipt for $50,000 in cash to give to that individual, we need to find out how you got that $50,000 or $100,000 or $150,000. The police officers left no receipts, no copies, so it is their word to claim they saw the receipts and the receipts would have been equivalent to $22,157,000, it reeks of questionable activity.”
Griffith said the investigation is still ongoing but again made another appeal to the public not to get involved in pyramid schemes. He said with the involvement of police and other law enforcement officers, it had become difficult for him to deal with the matter.
He said he was trying his best to keep the country safe but some citizens are kicking against his activities.
“It seems like certain people do not want this country to be safe but they want me to reduce crime but it must not affect them, it cannot work that way.”
He said the money that was seized from DSS could have been used as a front for money laundering, human trafficking, drugs, purchasing weapons or from gangs siphoning cash.