THE police are investigating the involvement of its own members as clients of convicted human trafficker Anthony Michael Smith who had sex with the minor he hired and forced into prostitution.
The Judiciary revealed information about police officers' involvement in the sex-trafficking matter in a statement.
In light of that information, Justice Geoffrey Henderson, who presided over the trial, directed the Registrar of the Supreme Court “to forward the transcripts of the proceedings to the Counter Trafficking Unit (CTU), which contained evidence that members of the police service had sexual intercourse with the 16-year-old.”
The Judiciary's statement said the teenager, who was looking for a job, had been forced into prostitution, with her first client being a foreign national staying at a waterfront hotel in Port of Spain.
"The 16-year-old was required to continue sex work while she attended part-time school. She testified that her last client was a police officer," the statement said.
It added the minor came from the home of a single mother who struggled to care for her five children. The girl left school and went in search of a job to help her family.
The victim, who is now in her early 20s and lives outside the jurisdiction, was flown back to Trinidad and Tobago to give evidence before a judge and jury.
The court heard that in her first interview she was invited by Smith to remove her clothes to be photographed, understanding the true nature of the job he wanted to hire her for.
She declined and was given a job as a bartender.
However soon, she was coerced into engaging in sex work, while she went to school part-time.
She also testified he subjected her to physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
The Judiciary’s statement said in August 2015, the minor informed Smith of her decision to leave, but was only allowed to leave with belongings that could fit in two bags.
She had to leave behind her puppy and other belongings, including her passport.
Her passport led police to her and eventually Smith's arrest and conviction.
Director of the Counter Trafficking Unit Dr Samantha Chaitram confirmed to the Newsday on Saturday, “I have received the transcript and would act on it. I cannot say any more.”
Confirmation of the investigation also came from police corporate communications manager Joanne Archie on Saturday.
“That information would have to be forwarded officially to the commissioner with all the facts to initiate the investigation against the police officers.
“The CoP will now have to put together a team and give instrument of appointment as it relates to that investigation.”
Archie told the Newsday the conviction of Smith, a former bar manager from Tunapuna, who escaped after removing his electronic monitoring device during his trial in September, is not the end of the matter.
She said how Smith was able to remove the electronic bracelet and abscond will be the subject of another probe. The police issued an advisory seeking the public's help to find Smith on Saturday, with a photo of him.
It said Smith, 38, of Tunapuna Road, Tunapuna, had been convicted of five counts of trafficking a child on November 2, was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment and will begin serving the sentence on his arrest.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call 800-TIPS or contact the police at 555, 999, 911, or any police station.
A manhunt,involving every arm of national security is under way to find Smith.
National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds and Cpl Dane-Marie Marshall sidestepped questions of any evidence surfacing during the trial that law enforcement officers had frequented the place of "ill repute" that Smith ran during a news conference on Friday to announce the first conviction under the Human Trafficking Act.
Marshall, who had been the chief investigators in the matter, rocked back in her chair when the question was posed. She paused for a moment before replying to the journalist, “I am trying to understand your question. I was there. Are you referring to me?”
Hinds interjected, “In relation to this matter, let me answer that, since I don’t want it to appear as if the police are speaking in their own defence. Let me, as a non-police (officer), say that in relation to this matter, there has been no such report.”
He appealed to the media, , however, “to use your expertise and prowess about sensitising people about the business of human trafficking.
“In addition, since you get around, if you ever find any place of ill repute that you know anyone associated with national security frequents, we would be more than happy to know.”
Speaking about the monitoring system, Hinds said in light of all the experiences in the electronic monitoring division, which has been observing best practices, taking note of what happened internationally and in terms of technology, action has been taken to enhance and improve the techniques used here.