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Ministry linked to search for Flying Squad base
An internal e-mail trail at the Ministry of National Security shows that a base was sought for the New Flying Squad Investigation Unit (NFSIU). And while Minister of National Security Jack Warner claims the unit remains defunct since it was shut down in the 1980s, investigations show otherwise. Newly-appointed National Security Operations Centre (NSOC) director Garvin Heerah was aware of plans to revive the unit.
Evidence of this is shown in a series of e-mails obtained by the Sunday Guardian that was sent to Heerah during September and October last year. Among them is a September 21 e-mail discussing the rental of office space for the unit at Nanan Street East, Aranguez. The e-mail reads, “Please see below the location in Aranguez for the location for FS housing unit. It is a prime spot and the location is close to the highway for easy access.”
The two-storey building that was being proposed is equipped with fire detectors, sensors, cameras and motion sensors. When the Sunday Guardian contacted Heerah last week asking him to shed some light on the details of the e-mail, he said, “I prefer to discuss this matter off the phone. There is some more information that you need to get. What you are seeing is the facilitation of information. “I will explain it at another time that is appropriate. I have to get permission.”
However, while Heerah shied away from commenting, the owner of the building, Sherrick Ishmael, confirmed that officials from the National Security Ministry contacted him last year in connection with renting the building to set up the unit. “We had all the documentation in place,” Ishmael said. “The last I heard from them is that they were interested. I went out of the country so I did not hear anything further from them. I do not know what is going on.”
The Sunday Guardian learnt the Aranguez location was not suited for the covert operation and a decision was then taken to set up operations from an office at the premises of Trident Technical and Logistical Services and Donrich Security Kennels, at Factory Road, Golden Grove Road, Arouca. Something went awry sometime between October and December last year as investigations show plans were also on stream to bring the unit under the remit of the police service.
Ag CoP Williams in the dark
However, acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, who has to sanction the setting up of such a unit, was kept in the dark about what was taking place. The acting CoP could not be reached for comment yesterday. Williams announced last week that reports that the unit had been revived were being investigated. A top police official commented, “The law is quite clear and the CoP must sanction such a unit.
“A unit can be covert but must be sanctioned by the CoP—otherwise it is an illegal entity that must be stopped immediately.”
The paper trail for the squad
A contract dated November 2, 2012, was drawn up for all NFSIU members to fill out on assuming duty as SRPs. Several people claiming to be members of the NFSIU sent the Sunday Guardian a copy of the contract and related documents—including a telephone listing for members of the unit—after the story was published on February 2.
The logo of the NFSIU is emblazoned on the first page of the contract. Its address is listed as Factory Road, Golden Grove. Under the heading “Ministry of National Security and the NFSIU,” the contract says: “Pursuant to your appointment as a SRP officer and subject to the provisions of the SRP Act Chap 15:03, I hereby advise you of the following:
“(1) You are called out to full-time duty at any location to perform the duties and tasks as set out in Schedule 1 for two years beginning November 2012.
“(2) The terms and conditions of your employment as recommended by the chief personnel/NSOC administration officer, which are particularized in Schedule 2, shall take effect from the date of assumption of duty
“(3) It is agreed that the stated salary shall be subject to all applicable deductions and would become payable in arrears on the last working day of each month or when necessary.”
Recruiting the squad
Investigations show some of the members of the disbanded Special Anti-Crime Unit (SAUTT) were recruited to be part of the NFSIU. In 2011, the People’s Partnership Government decided to scrap SAUTT on the basis that it was a burden on taxpayers and the move would save $132 million annually.
However, the Sunday Guardian learned, while some of the members were assigned to different state intelligence agencies, others were working part-time at the NFSIU up until January 30. Random telephone calls to several of the members yesterday confirmed that they were in fact working under the NFSIU. Speaking under strict anonymity, one officer said, “I started working from October to December. I filled out the application form, I did everything.
“No vehicle was assigned to me. I was assigned to the Central area.” Asked if a salary was agreed upon, the officer said, “It was supposed to be approximately $20,000 per month.” When the Sunday Guardian contacted another officer, he revealed that he formed part of the NFSIU executive and held a senior post in the unit.
"I started in August,” he said. “I filled out the NFSIU application form. I worked from August to January. We moved to Piarco. “I received no salary but it was agreed in the presence of others that I would be paid approximately $35,000 per month. I have not received a single cent for my services.” A retired police officer who had started work with the NFSIU said, "I received pension from the police service but I came on from the first week in September until the last day when we worked from Piarco, in December. I never was paid.
“We operated from Donrich Security compound in Piarco. We did not agree on a salary as yet." Several calls to other members also confirmed that the NFSIU had been up and running.
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