A major investigation of the Drug Squad is under way as the Royal Barbados Police Force tries to solve a potentially embarrassing case of missing drug money.
Few details were immediately available as to how far the net spreads, but Acting Assistant Commissioner responsible for Crime Management Lybron Sobers confirmed to Barbados TODAY this afternoon that a number of police officers were under investigation in connection with the absent cash.
An official source said about $2.5 million in narco cash disappeared sometime between March 5 and March 10 this year, although it was not clear where the money was held, when it was discovered missing and who reported its disappearance.
However, Sobers said he could not confirm the missing amount because he was still awaiting a report from the senior officer conducting the probe.
“I am waiting on a report [from] one of my officers. He is doing the investigation . . . but in my dealings I haven’t heard of that kind of money,” the senior policeman said of the sum.
The top crime sleuth also could not say when, where or from whom the money was confiscated, preferring to wait until the investigation was complete.
“I am waiting on the report right now because I am not even sure. He [the investigator] is doing the investigation at the location and he hasn’t given me a report as yet. I am hoping I get it by this week.”
However, an official source told Barbados TODAY the cash was confiscated from Barbadian and Trinidadian drug lords.
There was no indication whether or not the money was being held as evidence for any upcoming court hearing, and, if so, how its disappearance would affect the case.
Even though the Drug Squad is not a Government revenue collection agency, its crime-fighting task includes the seizure of cash during drugs raids.
It has the power to seize drug-related revenue under the Criminal Assets Recovery Fund Act 2016, supported by several other pieces of legislation such as the Proceeds of Crime Act, the Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (Prevention and Control) Act and the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The Drug Squad is guided by the Barbados National Anti Drug Plan, which outlines the policies, goals, strategies and legislation to combat narcotics trafficking.
The Drug Squad management focuses on major traffickers, although it monitors “street mules” and low-level drug traffickers. Its priority mandate is to cooperate and share information and intelligence with regional and international counterparts, with the main intelligence focus on major traffickers.
The 2014 Customer Satisfaction Survey conducted by the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit had found that the Drug Squad, along with the Special Services Unit, Criminal Investigations Department and the Public Relations Department had come in for high praise among the Barbadian public.