Police detain spy agency head on suspicion of transferring guns

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Major Roger Best. –

The head of the country’s premier spy agency, who had been on administrative leave since March 2, has been detained by police and is expected to be questioned later on May 16.

Senior police sources have confirmed the arrest of Major Roger Best and say other Strategic Services Agency (SSA) senior officials are to be brought in for questioning in the coming days.

The SSA is authorised to intercept communications from people after obtaining court orders under the Interception of Communication Act.

The agency reports directly to the National Security Council and alerts state agencies to possible terrorism threats, among other national-security concerns.

Reliable police sources confirmed Best will be interviewed about allegations including the illegal transfer of guns and ammunition. Police said he was detained and taken to the St Joseph Police Station.

The Prime Minister, as head of the National Security Council, had announced Best’s removal from office shortly after Rowley returned from a trip to Washington, DC, where he met with the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other top intelligence officials.

Rowley cited an impending threat to national security as the reason for the decision.

The PM recalled retired Brig Gen Anthony Phillips-Spencer, Trinidad and Tobago’s ambassador to the US, to replace Best.

Since then several agents of the SSA including deputy director Joanne Daniel, have been sent on leave and others terminated. Phillips-Spencer did an audit at the agency over the last two months, in an effort to weed out those who were allegedly compromised, national security sources said.

On March 19, Rowley made the shocking claim that state agencies have become one with criminal elements during a sod-turning ceremony for the Caura Housing Development, in a clear reference to details emerging from the probe into the SSA, which is based at Knowsley, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

“For the last two weeks, we have been dealing with the state contribution to that (crime) problem, where state authorities in positions of trust have broken down and the calypso Who’s Going to Guard the Guard is now the most important question.”

On March 9, police then raided the home of Pastor Ian Albert Ezekiel Brown, a special reserve police officer, who worked for the SSA, and was reportedly a close ally of senior officials there.

Police also raided the site of an extension of Brown’s church in Caratal, Cumuto. After the scandal broke, the church’s website and social media pages were deactivated.

In an interview on Power 102FM on March 12, Brown, who claimed to be an undercover SSA intelligence officer, said he feared for his life after his “cover was blown.”

He has since been terminated as a police officer.