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Chinese robbery suspects in custody

Monday, January 27, 2014    

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SEVERAL of the men believed to be behind the robbery of a group of Chinese nationals in Hope Pastures, St Andrew, earlier this month are in police custody and the police high command has vowed to apprehend the rest.

According to reports, the group was in the island to carry out a special project at Hope Gardens on behalf of the Government of China when their place of residence was invaded by eight men armed with guns and knives.

Five of the men tied up the occupants and demanded money. They also broke the jawbone of one of the visitors and hit another member of the group in the head. The robbers reportedly took US$12,000, cellular phones, 10 laptop computers, and I-pads.

Providing an update during last Thursday's Post Cabinet media briefing at Jamaica House, Police Commissioner Owen Ellington said that the individuals involved in that robbery were no strangers to the police.

"These are individuals who were arrested previously. We have been able to re-arrest some of them," the commissioner said.

"Our investigations are progressing very well and we hope at some stage to be able to get all of these individuals with evidence, so that we can get them behind bars," he added.

In the meantime, Commissioner Ellington said that there has "been a trend in recent years where criminal elements, well-organised gangs, have been targeting the Chinese community.

"They target them in a number of ways, shakedowns around immigration and work permit issues, shakedowns around counterfeit or contraband imports, some of them pretending to be police and customs officers. Then there is a set where their modus operandi is to rob the Chinese. We have arrested these individuals over and over," he told the briefing.

He, however, said that the police has been having difficulty prosecuting in instances "because of the reluctance of the victims to come forward.

"So what we are trying to do is proceed against them by laying the charges we can carry forward without the actual victims being present as witnesses. That has serious implications; maybe that is one of the reasons why the robbers think they can prey on this particularly vulnerable group," he said.

The police high command, following the Hope Pastures incident, had outlined a number of measures that it will be implementing to protect the victims of the most recent attack, as well as the local Chinese community.

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