Extravagant gifts like a Benelli M4 shotgun are showered against several police officers and employees of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service in exchange for gun licenses.
The businessmen in question operate their offices in Central Trinidad and Sea Lots.
The gifts serve as an incentive for officers in exchange for quick tracking of gun user licenses (FULs), variations, and gun dealer licenses.
The rewards include coverage of medical expenses in private facilities, land purchases, sophisticated weapon purchases, cash, and home renovations.
Of the four officers whose conduct was questioned during the Sunday Express investigation, two commented on or confirmed receipt of the questions asked.
The media is no stranger to him as he has often attended police press conferences and spoken on the subject of FULs.
Provisional Licenses, FULs, Variations, and Arms Dealer Licenses are signed by the Commissioner of Police.
In addition, some employees in management positions within the TTPS also collect a lot of money for quickly following FUL windfall links.
You have invested in prime real estate and opened business with close relatives as fronts.
One such company is located in Woodbrook and currently hosts a law firm.
The relatives and friends of these managers are the owners of the dealer licenses.
The managers in question charge from $ 45,000 per FUL fast track.
Their prices vary from first-time applications to variations.
In addition, an ongoing Sunday Express investigation uncovered another racket involving businessmen and some officers from the TTPS’s firearms division.
Completed files of applicants who are waiting for approval are temporarily “lost” and can only be accessed again if the applicants pay the applicants in cash to the entrepreneurs.
The business people would ensure through police officers that the approval process is accelerated.
In addition, the business people concerned are donors who have joined the TTPS’s I Support Our Service (ISOS) initiative.
ISOS, launched in 2019, is an initiative by Gary Griffith and his wife Nicole. These are companies that promise their support for the TTPS.
Support can take the form of discounts for police officers or the provision of material items for the TTPS.
The Central businessman has a merchant license and owns a security company.
Further checks revealed that the security company, under the then administration of Kamla Persad-Bissessar, had won a series of questionable million dollar contracts for services for the state water and sanitation authority.
The other businessman runs his business in Sea Lots.
He recently received a trader’s license after registering a tactical company on July 10, 2020.
Several attempts to telephone both businessmen over the past week to get comments from them have been unsuccessful.
Business people: FUL file ‘lost’
Several business people spoke to the Sunday Express during January, February and last week and shared their experiences.
Their experiences with the firearms section of the TTPS and certain registered firearms dealers have shown similarities.
A 45-year-old businessman who works in the Central area said he applied for his FUL late last year.
“Officials came to my house, did an inspection, I handed in the necessary documents, they talked to my neighbors, and they interviewed my wife. Three of my children live abroad and the fourth does not live with me. “
The merchant said he was told by the division manager that his file had been submitted and a recommendation for approval had been made.
“I even called the firearms department and was told the file was pending approval,” he said.
Last month he visited an arms dealer’s facility and checked out the weapons on offer.
He was asked certain questions by the dealer, such as his name, etc.
The dealer “told me straight away, give him $ 35,000 and I’ll get my FUL within a week. I said no, my file is pending approval. Two weeks ago I called the firearms department, gave them my file number and was told they couldn’t find my file, I have to reapply.
“I went back to the dealer who asked that I pay $ 75,000 because the process had to start over and if I had accepted the original offer, money would have been saved,” he said.
Another businessman said he visited the firearms department to review his “lost application” and was shocked to see an officer who was last stationed at the central department with a series of allegations against him of “normal, normal in.” the Firearms Department ”to work. .
“I just walked out when I saw him because I knew it was time to eat,” he said.
A similar experience was reported by another person who called the firearms department to review their application.
The officer (name given) who answered the phone worked part-time in the facility of a Central dealer and is now in a senior position within the department.
The Sunday Express contacted two of the police officers in question last Friday afternoon – a constable and a sergeant.
The officer did not answer any questions when he was contacted by phone at 6:19 p.m.
At 6:50 p.m. the questions were sent to him via WhatsApp.
1) Claims have been made that you received financial incentives from business people to expedite FUL applications. How do you comment?
2) Have you received financial incentives from business people (named) to expedite FUL applications?
Shortly afterwards, two blue check marks appeared, indicating that the questions had been read.
A reminder was sent to him yesterday at 9:14 a.m. indicating that his replies have not yet been received.
There was no response.
The Sgt was contacted by phone on March 19 at 5:12 p.m. on the Sunday Express asking to comment on the allegations made against him and his relationship with Central and Sea Lots business people (names named).
Sunday Express: Are you and other police officers reporting to the Firearms Division receiving cash from individuals, namely business people (named), to help with the expeditious processing of FUL applications?
Sgt: Well … that’s not true.
Sunday Express: Did you receive a Benelli M4 shotgun as a thank you from a businessman (named) for helping with the speedy processing of FUL applications?
Sgt: That’s totally wrong. I don’t have that.
Sunday Express: Have you ever driven or owned a vehicle (called number plate, called model) owned by an El Socorro businessman (called name) as an incentive to expedite that businessman’s request for two variants (called file number) two weeks ago?
On December 13, 2019, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith advised people against paying anyone – including police officers – to get an FUL.
Griffith had determined that such payments would in no way help expedite her application. In an official statement, he said that people claimed they knew certain high-ranking police officers who promised to help with obtaining their FULs.
In the press release, Griffith stated that the Firearms Department and Office of Commissioner of Police adhere to a rigorous process for approving and issuing FULs.
Around 423 applications were approved for the period August 2017 to July 2018; and from August 2018 until today 1,887 FUL applications have been approved.
On September 13, 2018, at a breakfast meeting held by the Chaguanas Business Chamber, Griffith said that police officers were being given bribes of $ 50,000 to expedite applications for FULs. He had told the businessmen in attendance to refrain from paying in order to get their application to the top of the list as they would be wasting their money.
He had also noticed that the money stops with him and he would stick to the law in deciding who is eligible.
Last October, a Sunday Express investigation that began 11 months earlier reported that licensed dealers were charging their customers “processing fees” in order to obtain expedited firearms user licenses (FULs).
These fees start at $ 45,000 and reach near $ 80,000 depending on which merchant is targeted.
The multi-million dollar bat involved a number of registered arms dealers targeting the business community.
Among the beneficiaries were several private security companies and the owners of well-known businesses across the country.