Officers of the T&T Police Service’s Financial Investigations Branch (FIB) finished counting the money they seized in their second raid at the Drugs Sou-Sou headquarters in La Horquetta on Tuesday, mere hours after it was seized in an exercise that included officers of the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB).
The final count on the seized money was $6.4 million, police sources told Guardian Media.
The figure was confirmed by Acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob during a brief telephone interview yesterday. Jacob said the police were entitled, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, to hold the money for at least 96 hours from the time it was seized to ensure whether it was obtained lawfully. If this is not done in this specific time frame, investigators can approach the court for a detention order to hold the money for a longer period, once it is justified or they may have to return the money to its owner, he said.
During the second DSS raid on Tuesday, PSB officers also seized hundreds of receipt books, documents containing line payments to thousands of individuals and other pertinent documents that could assist investigators.
The raid was coordinated with the help of the Bajan investigators and UK investigators who came into the country to assist in the probe, Mc Donald Jacob said.
The DSS was first raided on September 21 by officers of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) and some $22 million was taken to the La Horquetta Police Station. However, the money, the amount of which was never verified because police did not complete counting the seized cash, was released hours later into the hands of DSS owner Kerron Clarke by junior police officers from the station who were not authorised to do so.
Police are also investigating the behaviour of a member of the T&T Defence Force who was caught on camera during the first raid stuffing money into his tactical uniform. The FIB is also investigating the source of DSS funds.
At least four officers have been suspended and 10 others transferred to other divisions as the probe continues. See page 5