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Griffith: No cover-up in US cocaine seizure

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
National Security Minister, Gary Griffith, centre, points to Communications Minister, Gerald Hadeed, left, while joking with Opposition members at the sitting of the Senate yesterday. Looking on, at right, is Finance Minister, Larry Howai. PHOTO: MARYANN AUGUSTE

National Security Minister Gary Griffith insisted yesterday there would be no cover-up over the $640 million seizure of cocaine which was shipped out of T&T concealed in fruit juice tins. He said so in a brief interview with reporters before the start of yesterday’s Senate sitting. Griffith said a meeting was scheduled for yesterday between local intelligence agencies and US agencies, including the DEA. He did not elaborate, saying once the matter was being investigated he could not comment but was confident justice would be done.



US DEA officers and local detectives are said to be close to making an arrest. The cocaine was found in juice cans shipped from Port-of-Spain to Norfolk, Virginia, last December. Later, in his contribution to the debate on the Bail Amendment Bill, Griffith said an estimated 1,100 kilogrammes of cocaine had been seized in collaboration with international agencies within the last three months.


Griffith said 300 kilogrammes of cocaine was seized after national intelligence agencies worked with Spanish police. He did not give further details on that find. He said subsequently 800 kilogrammes of cocaine was discovered in an initiative involving the Trans-national Organised Crime Unit (TOCU) and the Strategic Services Agency (SSA), UK national security agency, and the French customs division.


Griffith said one of the reasons why the Bail Bill should be made law was to prevent someone from exporting $640 million worth of cocaine. He said without the law the individual could be.granted bail and commit additional offences but if it was made law citizens could get an opportunity to exhale and assist the police with information about crime. This would also lead to an increase in the police detection rate, he added.


“The detection rate can only be increased through human intelligence and that is what we need,” Griffith added. He said talking about the disbanded Special Anti Crime Unit (Sautt), the cancellation of a contract to purchase offshore patrol vessels would not help in the crime fight. Instead, he said, Government was seeking to establish a proper maritime wall and not OPVs and  considering making citizens virtual police officers by allowing them to give information confidentially online.


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