$5,000 TO KILL

$5,000 TO KILL

Police Commissioner confirms price tag, as criminals go on the rampage

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 08, 2013

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FOR as little as $5,000, an execution order or 'hit' can be placed on the life of an individual.

A probe by the Jamaica Observer has uncovered that murderers for hire, many of them desperate to make a quick buck, have pushed their willingness to kill to new levels, and for a fee of a mere $5,000, will snuff out the lives of their unsuspecting victims.

The information was confirmed by Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington who said that a number of arrests of people responsible for such acts have been made in recent times.

"We have had situations where 'hits' were done [by criminals] for as little as $5,000," the Commissioner told the Observer.

Ellington, however, did not state the number of cases that were uncovered by the police.

While acknowledging that contract killings were nothing new, he said that the incidents were part of a series of deadly practices carried out by members of the criminal underworld that has left authorities concerned.

"In a society where there is diminishing value for life, it does not take much for a little 'shotta' as they put it, to go and kill someone for a small fee," Ellington said.

"It is a reality, and it is one of the manifestations of organised crime," the police commissioner added.

Last week, detectives from the Major Investigation Task Force (MIT) said that probes on more than 250 gun-related murders this year turned up information which showed that the practice was rampant.

The police said that 30 per cent of the murder cases, or at least three out of every 10 murders that were cleared up, were found to be linked to contract killings.

"Police carried out investigations on at least 250 gun-related murder scenes, and of those figures we have had a clear-up rate of up to 60 per cent," one senior detective said.

Another detective told the Observer that intensified operations had led to the arrest of several killers, but a major challenge remains.

"Despite being able to arrest persons responsible for these murders, the police are unable to identify the true motives in a number of these cases," a senior detective attached to (MIT) told the Observer

The police said that they have also found that in many of the cases, persons apprehended were not aware of the reasons contracts were taken out, but went ahead with the planned executions purely for money.

The police said that the case involving Melissa Clarke, the Jamaica Observer Mogul in the Making nominee, who was gunned down at her gate in Washington Gardens, St Andrew, earlier this year, was one such incident.

"Based on information, we suspect that Clarke was the victim of a contract killing,' the police source told the Observer.

Two men who were suspected to have been behind the attack were shot dead during a confrontation with the police and, according to the dectective "the search continues for other persons believed to be behind the killing".

In June, Clarke was attacked and shot several times inside her BMW motor car as she was about to leave home.

Eyewitnesses said that a white car drove up, and occupants immediately opened gunfire, hitting Clarke several times.

She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Clarke was the owner of the Lavish Lashes cosmetology store in Half-Way-Tree.

The police said that, in many cases, criminals on contract were under instructions not to carry out attacks in public spaces and in broad daylight.

Members of the public have been urged to be on the alert for potential assassins.

"The comfort zone is no longer comfortable anymore, and members of the public should be more alert and aware of their surroundings," the police officer warned.

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