News

20 held in Hanover lotto scam raid

BY HORACE HINES Sunday Observer reporter

Sunday, April 01, 2012    

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LUCEA, Hanover — Five women were among 20 persons taken into custody by members of an Area One taskforce policing lotto scam crime during a massive operation in several communities in Hanover yesterday.

Several high-end vehicles were among the items seized by the police during the operation.

According to Superintendent Leon Clunie, five of the 20 persons taken into custody were charged for different crimes, while the other 15 are being questioned in relation to their alleged involvement in the illicit sweepstakes.

Superintendent Clunie described the marathon operation, which started at 6:30 am and lasted for several hours, as being successful.

"From all indication it was a successful operation. We seized five high-end motor vehicles, we arrested about 20 persons of which five were charged with various offences and the other 15 are going through a process of profiling to see the connection with the scamming based upon the connection that we have," Superintendent Clunie said.

He noted that the illicit sweepstakes, which is rampant in St James, has now spread to communities in the neighbouring parish of Hanover.

But the police, he said, was bent on seizing the gains from the scam.

Last month at the reopening on the Barnett Street Police Station in Montego Bay, St James, Security Minister Peter Bunting noted that the resort city "is fastly gaining the infamy as the hub for the lotto scam".

He said that while some people are not making the connection with the scammers and the violent crimes occurring every week in the city, 40 per cent of the murders in St James "are related in one way or another to the operation of the lottery scam".

"And I think it is important for people to make that connection so that there is no tolerance for this kind of activity," said Bunting. "We are generally way too tolerant of criminal activity in Jamaica and sometimes we don't see the white collar crime as crime at all, we think of it as hustling, but in many cases that white collar crime feeds the violent crime at the street level, one way or another."

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