The fall of Randolph Burroughs | The Trinidad Guardian
Ever since this column started one year ago, I have received e-mails, calls and letters from the public, asking the same question—Who was really behind the plot to get rid of Randolph Burroughs? It really remains a mystery as to why Burroughs, in the pinnacle of his career as Commissioner of Police, was brought crashing down. Was it jealousy from within the Police Service or did the government at the time feel he was “too big for his shoes?”
Despite what people may think about “The Fox,” they really wish that Burroughs was around now to deal with the crime problem and the high murder rate. It was so ironic that Burroughs, who led an assault against criminals, and who was responsible for putting many of them in prison, was served a dose of his own medicine. Burroughs, who had a quick rise to the top, was dealt a serious blow by the George Chambers government. The then government established a commission of enquiry which later produced the Scott Drug report.
Burroughs and his dreaded Flying Squad were on trial. Allegations were made against 52 police officers. Testimony was taken in private before the then chairman the late Justice Garvin Scott. Witnesses and underworld characters gave evidence against police officers, mostly members of the Flying Squad. The secret testimony also brought down Burroughs, a man who had put his life on the line and who has been credited with dealing with many criminals, even though many did not agree with his methods.
Rise and Fall
No one could forget the job Burroughs and his men did when the country was threatened by members of the National Union of Freedom Fighters (NUFF) in 1973. No one could forget how Burroughs and his men went after the guerrilla fighters. These NUFF members were threatening the stability of the country, they were robbing banks and shooting up the place. They had the country in fear, and at one time, the then Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams threatened to flee the country. Burroughs took on the job and, who did not get killed, ended up badly wounded. Very few survived the assault from the Flying Squad. In 1976, Burroughs, as assistant commissioner, was at the centre of an international incident. After the Cubana Airlines crash off Barbados, Burroughs nailed the suspects, Jose Vasquez Garcia, and Freddy Lugo at the Holiday Inn, Port-of-Spain.
After a brilliant career, someone felt that this man was more powerful than the prime minister. There was a two-prong attack on Burroughs. Firstly, he was charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine at Carli Bay, Couva. The State took the evidence of a notorious criminal, Cuthbert “Scotty” Charles, to say that he was present when Burroughs was at Carli Bay, offloading cocaine. It came as no surprise that Burroughs was cleared of that charge. Not satisfied with the not-guilty verdict, the State moved against Burroughs again. He was charged with conspiracy to murder two wanted men on the Lady Young Road, Morvant. He was committed to stand trial, but the case fell apart before Justice Jean Permanand in the Port-of-Spain High Court in 1987.
Died of a Broken Heart
Although he was acquitted, his credibility was in shambles and he retired early from the Police Service. It is said that Burroughs died of a broken heart on October 9, 1996, over the “ungrateful treatment” he got from a country he risked his life for. Since his early retirement, Burroughs sat at his Pinewood Gardens, Petit Valley, home, daily, speaking about the plot to get him off the job. He used to call names, some of them are dead while others are still alive. Burroughs was convinced that a certain man, still alive today, was behind the move to get rid of him. All members of the Flying Squad were recalled to duty more than two years later. Some took early retirement, others worked until the retirement age and two achieved the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police.
There were allegations years ago that executed murderer Dole Chadee had police officers on his payroll, one of the reasons as to why he was never caught with cocaine. There was one instance when police said they seized cocaine from inside a washing machine at Chadee’s Piparo home. But after Chadee was executed, his wife Chandra was freed in the San Fernando High Court by Justice Anthony Lucky. Chadee was considered a major player in the drug world, but he was never caught with cocaine. He was wanted by the American authorities, but he was never extradited. Allegations were made that some very senior officers used to tip off Chadee when a raid was going to take place at his Piparo mansion. Chadee had a close connection at the Princes Town Police Station in the 1980s. That connection, according to allegations, did his bidding for him, even to the point where a main witness was killed before a trial.
Some say Chadee was related to Burroughs in some way and that is why he was protected for a long time. After Burroughs’ demise, Chadee was arrested and charged three times for murder but was acquitted each time because the main witness was killed. One of these witnesses was Charles. Burroughs was very media-friendly and a no-nonsense man. T&T was safe during Burroughs’ days. There is the cry on the streets that there should be another Burroughs-type leader in the Police Service. But before that can happen, there must be a committed person to take on the criminals.