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More e-mails link Heerah to New Flying Squad
More e-mails have surfaced linking director of National Security Operations Centre (NSCO) Garvin Heerah to the New Flying Squad Investigations Unit (NFSIU). And while Minister of National Security Jack Warner has denied any knowledge of the NFSIU being revived, e-mails show that discussions took place and plans were on stream to approach Warner for the supply of items to carry out operations.
The e-mails provide still further evidence that the NFSIU was up and running at Factory Road, Golden Grove, Arouca, until it was shut down because of lack of funding. Among them is the September e-mail trail showing that Heerah was in discussions with the NFSIU on the allocation of an amended budget of a massive $89,420,066 for the period September 1, 2012, to September 1, 2014.
In a September 11 e-mail message, NFSIU accountant Purnell “Rocky” Pacheco wrote, “This is Purnell Pacheco, the accountant for the FS-Unit. Please find the amended budget for the above unit as per our discussion with yourself and Mr Cordner.” Heerah replied simply, “Thank you.”
Retired police inspector Mervyn Cordner, who claims he was recalled by Warner to head the NFSIU, had originally submitted a budget of $180 million for the two-year period. However, the budget was revised. When T&T Guardian contacted Pacheco, asking him to explain the e-mail exchanges between himself and Heerah, he said, “Ma’am, I have absolutely no comment to make on the matter.”
Another e-mail also shows Heerah knew the NFSIU was in operation. An e-mail dated October 10, and headed “Letters from NFS,” was sent from Heerah’s e-mail address to Pacheco, who is also the manager of finance at the SWAT Estate Police Company Ltd. In it Heerah wrote, “OK. I reviewed the letters. What I need urgently is a draft of the letter to Richardson to initialise the actions forward.”
In an immediate response, Pacheco—who was asked to resign from the security firm after being implicated in the Flying Squad affair—replied, “Please find attached letters from you pursuant.” Among them is an October 9 letter written by Cordner and addressed to Warner. In the letter, which was obtained by the Sunday Guardian, Cordner said a meeting had taken place on October 4 with Heerah and another with Deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson.
According to the letter, Richardson recommended:
• All members of the Flying Squad should become special reserve police (SRP) officers, as they would then have powers of arrest as well as control of the use of firearms
• A general manager should be hired to supervise the unit
In an October 12 e-mail to Heerah, Pacheco wrote, “As a follow-up to the meeting Mr Araujo on October 12 at NSOC Riverside Plaza, Port-of-Spain, he suggested we submit to you to an effort to reach the permanent secretary and the minister to have these items for the unit to start operations immediately.
“He further stated the permanent secretary for the Ministry of National Security should be contacted as the paymaster to assist in the supply of the required items.” When the Sunday Guardian contacted David Araujo, who is the deputy director of NSOC, asking him to shed some light on the issue, he said, “I have been told I am not authorised to speak to the press on anything on this matter, and everything should be referred to the Ministry of National Security.”
Asked who gave the instruction, Araujo reiterated, “I have no authority to speak to the press on this matter.”
Mervyn Cordner’s claims have been corroborated by businessman Richard Koorn, from whose Arouca premises the NFSIU operated from September to January after relocating from a building at Henry Street, Port-of-Spain. Koorn said he was privy to several discussions that confirmed the NFSIU played an integral part in assisting police with investigations.
Internal e-mails from the Ministry of National Security show Garvin Heerah was aware that a base was being sought for the NFSIU last year in Aranguez. Heerah also helped the NFSIU lease eight vehicles from Miscellaneous Marketing Ltd of El Socorro.
Exactly who authorised the funding is unknown.
Who didn’t know
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has said she knew nothing of the NFSIU. On Friday, she told Parliament that Warner had reported to her he knew nothing about it either. Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams has repeatedly said he was unaware of the NFSIU until he read a Sunday Guardian exclusive report published on February 2.
Williams also dismissed Cordner’s claim to have been instrumental in assisting the police with solving six murders. Under the organisational structure, NSOC falls under the purview of Warner. The unit, which should have been sanctioned by the CoP, began operating outside the T&T Police Service in July last year.
NFSIU for “Weed Eater” job
The NFSIU was expected to carry out an operation along the southern peninsula on November 13. Named “Weed Eater,” it was to eradicate approximately 30 acres of high-grade marijuana. The exercise, an intelligence report showed, also included plans to seize high-powered automatic weapons and detain illegal immigrants.
Documents showed that a total of 100 personnel, including NFSIU members, army, police, immigration and customs officers, were to be part of the operation. However, things turned sour and the operation failed to get off the ground because of a lack of funding.
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