Published On: Thu, Mar 16th, 2017

MP Brownbill arrested

chanel brownbillGREAT BAY – Law enforcement is having a field day this week with the arrest of Unites St. Maarten party MP Chanel Brownbill (see photo) and police officer Akeem A. in connection with the Emerald-investigation and immigration employee Brunella M.B. as the umpteenth suspect in the Ostrich-case. A third person, identified as S.W. has also been arrested as a suspect in the Emerald-probe.

Add to that the fatal shooting on Arch Road on Tuesday evening that killed Nino Thewet and left another victim seriously injured and it becomes clear that the men and women in blue are working overtime right now.

In November of last year officers of the Team Combating Undermining (Team Bestrijding Ondermijning – TBO) arrested the owner of Checkmate Security, O’Neal A. Now police officer Akeem A. is also under arrest as a suspect in this so-called Emerald investigation.

Immigration officer and policeman also behind bar

This investigation began based on media reports about the new and much higher contract Checkmate had signed with the port. During this investigation, suspicions arose about tax fraud, forgery and money laundering.

In November, the authorities searched the company’s offices on Illidge Road, at the port and at the Sun Tan Villas and Apartments Hotel (aka Rama Hotel) in Pointe Blanche. They seized several bank accounts and, in cooperation with law enforcement on the French side, a yacht.

Yesterday the TBO and the National Detectives Agency arrested three suspects in the Emerald-investigation – Brownbill, the police officer and S.W. The officers searched two houses in cooperation with French-side authorities – one in Sucker Garden and one in French Quarter. The officers confiscated documents, administration and digital data carriers. The investigators had not searched these homes before.

Brownbill’s name has also come up as a question mark in the 2016 vote-buying investigation.

During the budget debate, in December, detectives came to the Parliament building to ‘invite’ Brownbill as a witness in this investigation. Brownbill, a relative newcomer in the political arena, won an astonishing 424 votes in the September 26 elections, ending as the number two vote-getter for the United St. Maarten party behind party leader Frans Richardson. His election result raised some eyebrows already on election night, but so far Brownbill has not been marked as a suspect. In 2014 he was a candidate for the United People’s party, winning just 94 votes.

The Ostrich-investigation focuses on bribery and human smuggling, whereby employees of the immigration services took bribes to admit people from Haiti, Guyana and Jamaica to the territory.

Brunella B.M, 44, is the fifth immigration officer that has been arrested in the course of this investigation that began in April 2016.

The first arrest was on November 14, when investigators nabbed J.M. and her partner D.F., who was later released though he remains a suspect.

On January 17, two more immigration employees, K.L.M.B. and A.A.D. were arrested and on Thursday, March 9 it was the turn of D.M.M.

On February 22 investigators arrested attorney Brenda Brooks in connection with this investigation on suspicion of bribery and human smuggling. Brooks was released from custody for health reasons.