National Security Minister Jack Warner yesterday admitted that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was "angry" over reports about the New Flying Squad Investigation Unit (NFSIU), a unit which allegedly operated without her knowledge.
Warner also admitted that he must bear responsibility for the state of affairs surrounding the NFSIU.
The Sunday Express also understands that unless he can account for his actions—especially the loan of eight vehicles—director of the National Security Operations Centre Garvin Heerah's job is on the line.
Retired inspector Mervyn Cordner, head of the NFSIU, had previously told the Sunday Express that the unit was operational for six months from June to December but closed shop because it did not receive funding from the Ministry of National Security.
The Prime Minister, who was in Haiti last week on regional security matters, pre-empted Warner's statement in Parliament last Friday by asking him to present a report to the National Security Council this Thursday.
Warner, speaking at his constituency office in Chaguanas, told the Sunday Express Persad-Bissessar had asked him questions on the matter when the issue became news.
"I had told her it was a storm in a teacup. But the Prime Minister is angry about how it is unfolding," he said.
He also had to make a statement to Cabinet last Thursday after his colleagues asked him to give an account.
The Sunday Express verified this with several of his Cabinet colleagues.
Warner's statement to Parliament would have been made with his own information.
He has consistently denied knowledge of the NFSIU without input from Heerah.
Attempts to reach Heerah for comment have not been successful.
Cordner has produced e-mails from November 2012 which show communication with Heerah.
The emails indicated that Heerah had authorised him and his team to "continue what they were doing" until called in for a meeting.
The e-mail trail also quoted Heerah as stating that Wayne Riley, adviser to Warner, was out of the country and when he returned they would have a meeting for "final sign off".
In addition, Heerah had been in touch with Rocky Pacheco, an accountant at the Ministry of National Security on Cordner's behalf.
Heerah aided Cordner in procuring vehicles and a suitable location for operations when there was no Cabinet approval for the establishment of the unit. He also facilitated meetings with Cordner and for a "civilian" to lend him eight vehicles for use without payment.
Warner had asked Heerah for a statement on the matter to be delivered to his desk by noon last Tuesday.
However, on the same day Heerah left Trinidad and Tobago for Argentina on a trip sponsored by the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) to observe the operations of CCTV cameras.
Warner yesterday admitted that despite his earlier statement that Heerah was due to return to Trinidad last Friday evening, the NSOC director is actually expected back tonight.
Warner said he has been in touch with Heerah but he did not want explanations over the phone. Instead, he asked for a written explanation which he expected to have as soon as it is available.
Asked by the Sunday Express if he didn't see it as a matter of urgency given the public outcry on the matter, Warner said his statement in Parliament would have put the issue to bed.
"I can't take comfort in the fact that I was not aware. If this is happening under my watch, I have to take responsibility. How could this happen under my watch?" he asked.
Asked by the Sunday Express who Heerah reported to, Warner acknowledged that it was him according to the organisational structure.
However, in the case of the NFSIU, Warner said Heerah did not provide an account of the activities in which he had allegedly worked with Cordner.
One email verified location, the strength of people in Cordner's team, the names of the officers working in the unit and the needs of the unit as it progressed.
A copy of the template showed that the NFSIU would comprise police, army, Coast Guard, Immigration, Customs and Excise, Prisons, T&TEC, Licensing Authority and TSTT which would total 35 people.
The Sunday Express understands that over 35 people were asked to join to NFSIU.
Cordner had provided a list of 40 people for the Ministry of National Security he had recruited and put on the NFSIU's payroll.
The promised salaries ranged from $10,000 to $18,000 a month and for himself, Cordner claimed $65,000 a month.
The salaries claimed for the officers, which eventually became part of a $24 million bill to the ministry, were not in keeping with the proposed Special Reserve Police (SRP) positions which the unit members would have been assigned if acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams had approved the unit.
One retired sergeant who was approached to be part of the unit told the Sunday Express that he declined the offer because of Cordner's checkered history.
Cordner was a member of the original Flying Squad under former Commissioner of Police Randolph Burroughs.
He was one of 52 officers in the infamous Scott Drug Report of 1987 and was suspended from police duties.
The original Flying Squad was led by Burroughs and operated from 1970 to 1986.
The unit was disbanded after Burroughs was arrested on a charge of conspiracy to murder. Cordner eventually left Trinidad and Tobago and migrated to Orlando, Florida, USA.
Cordner told the Sunday Express previously that the NFSIU had a mandate to "establish a good relationship with the public and regain their confidence by using information received and intelligence acquired".
Among the goals which he listed in the NFSIU's role were to cause murder suspects to be found and arrested, destroy drugs and illegal items found, secure all borders which could be used for criminal activities, identify and approach gang leaders including their associates, implement controls to reduce criminal activities surrounding the business community where money laundering was identified, and patrols to cover the cardinal points of Trinidad and Tobago.