Princes Town businesswoman sues State after arrest for human trafficking

A Princes Town businesswoman who was arrested by police and charged with human trafficking is suing the State.

Alana Lagan is contending the police acted on malice in their actions.

In her lawsuit, Lagan is seeking compensation for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution as well as special damages in the sum of $53,084 for legal fees and for loss of reputation.

She is represented by attorney Richard Jaggasar.

In her claim, filed on June 8, Lagan said she previously ran five food carts in south Trinidad and Tobago with her husband before he was shot and killed in St Joseph Village on May 23, 2015.

After her arrest, she had to close down three branches and went from having 30 workers to only five.

She said sometime between July and October 2014, three friends visited from Guyana and stayed at her home. Two of them became romantically involved and she gave them a key to her house which allowed them to move freely.

On October 23, 2014, money went missing from her home and her husband questioned her about it. She said they suspectd either one of their friends or employees had taken the money.

They called the police, who promised to visit the house to take the report and when they did not show up, Lagan and her husband went to the station to report the missing money.

One of the friends accompanied the couple to the police station. She told police she was having an affair with Lagan’s husband and it was for that reason he was accusing her (the friend) of stealing the money, her lawsuit claims.

Lagan’s claim said she told the officers she wanted the friends out of her home and was told to bring their belongings. She did so and also gave the female friend $200.

On October 30, 2014, the lawsuit claimed police came to her home to search for arms and ammunition. It said no warrant was presented and she was also questioned about her friend, whom she admitted to giving money “now and again.”

The lawsuit said in January, her husband was arrested and charged for possessions of guns and ammunition. It claimed police asked him for  money to have the matter dropped and when he refused, he was repeatedly harassed by officers.

Eventually, the charges were dropped and Lagan’s husband reported the matter to the police’s Professional Standards Bureau, before he was killed.

In June 2015, Lagan said while she was preparing to go to the bank, police again came to her home while the family was having a religious service for her husband and arrested her for “exploiting” her friends.

She was charged with trafficking in persons, but after 24 court appearances, the charges were eventually dropped on July 31, 2019.

The lawsuit said during her arrest, the police ridiculed her. She was also not fed for days. At the time she was pregnant, the lawsuit added.

She spent five days  in prison before being able to access bail, and the lawsuit said she and her family faced humiliation because of the ordeal.

Lagan also had to seek medical treatment and was said to be suffering from anxiety, moderate-severe depression, memory issues and mild dissociation.

Her businesses also suffered.

The claim said despite repeated attempts to get information on the police’s file on the human trafficking charges, none was forthcoming, leading her to question if any existed.

“The claimant faced a series of unwelcome remarks referring to her as a ‘human trafficker’ whilst in police custody, both in private and in the public domain…

“This caused public embarrassment and adversely affected her reputation as she owns a well-known food cart business.”

The claim also said her bank closed its account with her and her US visa was cancelled after she was charged.

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