Current, former security ministers can't recall
Durrant Pate, Sunday Gleaner Writer
It remains a mystery as to who ordered the closure of the successful police task force Operation Kingfish and why was it closed.
Launched in 2004 by then National Security Minister Dr Peter Phillips, the task force was quietly killed after the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) was elected to form the Government in 2007 despite its success in bringing down a number of Jamaica's crime syndicates and netting million of dollars in tainted money.
Following the recent disclosure by outgoing Assistant Commission of Police Les Green that the task force was systematically dismantled, The Sunday Gleaner sought answers from two former ministers of national security and the current minister, but none could say when and why Kingfish was killed.
Derrick Smith, who was appointed national security minister after the JLP's 2007 general election victory, told The Sunday Gleaner he had nothing to do with the dismantling of the task force. According to Smith, he was so pleased with Operation Kingfish that he gave the team additional duties.
Smith was adamant that he gave no instructions for Kingfish to be dismantled and its function whittled away.
Smith was replaced by Colonel Trevor McMillan, now deceased, who served for a short while as security minister before Dwight Nelson was named to the post.
Nelson last week told The Sunday Gleaner that he gave no order for Operation Kingfish to be disbanded, although he acknowledged that for the task force to be killed, policy direction should have come from the national security ministry. According to Nelson, he was as surprised as most Jamaicans when he saw the report in last week's edition of The Sunday Gleaner.
"I can't explain how Kingfish was dismantled and I met with Assistant Commissioner of Police Elbert Nelson and Colonel (name withheld) of the Military Intelligence Unit every Wednesday morning, and at no time did any of them speak to me about the dismantling of Kingfish," said Nelson.
"I keep getting into this thing that when things are done and I am asked about it and when I say I'm not aware, people call me a liar," mumbled Nelson.
He agreed with Smith and that any decision to dismantle Kingfish should have come from the policy actors, namely the Cabinet or the security ministry.
Current security minister Peter Bunting has also declared that he had no knowledge on who pulled the plug on Kingfish.
In the meantime, Deputy Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds, who was the first head of Operation Kingfish, refused to answer any questions about its demise.
"I'm not competent to speak on that" or "no comment," were the stock answers from Hinds.
Green had charged that politics and jealousy played a part in the decision to disband the task force.