Saturday, February 24, 2018

Captain to cook will be brought to justice

Griffith on US100m drug bust:


‘BIGGEST BUST EVER’: An officer from the Eastern Division Task Force walks through a marijuana field yesterday before it was destroyed during an eradication exercise carried out in the Toco and Grande Riviere Forest from Friday night to yesterday afternoon. The exercise, under the supervision of Corporal Nicholas Vialva together with officers of the OCNFB and Air Support Unit, destroyed a total of seven plantations comprising 75,000 fully-grown marijuana trees with a street value of $75,000,000.

Mark Fraser

Despite Government’s silence on the matter, United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials are still deeply involved in the investigation into the US$100 million cocaine which landed on US shores via Trinidad and Tobago  in December last year, National Security Minister Gary Griffith has said.

“United States intelligence officials are still working jointly with the Transnational Organised Crime Unit and the Security Service Agency (SSA) on the matter,” he told the Sunday Express in an interview.

He added, “I can assure you that this matter cannot in any way be put under the carpet. Even if persons have that perception everybody will recall that US$100 million landed on the US shores and that the US cannot close the door on that.”

The cloak of secrecy, has however not been lifted on what strides, if any, are being made in the investigation. 

Government officials even at the level of the National Security Council are not automatically privy to the details of the investigation, the Sunday Express has learnt. In fact, information is only shared on secured channels including cellphones.

In December last year, some 732 pounds of liquid cocaine were found in Trinidad Orange and Grapefruit juice cans at the Port of Norfolk, Virginia, United States. 

Griffith said “I intend to support them (DEA officials) in any way to bring closure and if and when the investigation has been concluded it should see all persons involved, from captain to cook, brought to justice,” Griffith warned.

Asked about claims that a Government official may be involved, (name called) Griffith said, “I have no such knowledge of any Government official being involved.

“I can assure that the investigation is very much alive, and I say let the chips fall where they may.”

He is also taking steps to beef up security at legitimate points of entry into the country. 

Griffith said while there is a tendency to protect and secure the illegal points of entry to stop the flow of illegal drugs and weapons, into the country, he was also taking a closer look at securing the legitimate points of entry. 

“I was just in London last week where I met with the UK officials and the Minister of Home Affairs.”

And while he admitted a lot of focus was placed on acquiring OPVs to stem the illegal trafficking into T&T borders, he questioned, “Can anyone verify that the drugs are not entering the legal ports of entry? We have to stop entry from the legal ports.”

He said he intends to make a statement on this very soon. 

“Many people have expressed concerns about the fact we are not doing enough but I have no intention of dropping the ball on this matter. More than daily updates on the investigation, what the population wants to see more than anything else is those involved being brought to justice. 

And for that to be achieved confidentiality is a must. I want to say that the recent $107 million marijuana bust was successful because confidentiality was key to the operation.” 

According to Griffith, information came to him directly and he kept it close to his chest. 

“I dealt with it confidentially to ensure no leaks, and by the time the operation actively took place there was no time for the individuals to be warned so that they could extract the drugs. 

It was the biggest marijuana bust ever and the way I dealt with it was to give people information on a need to know basis,” he said.