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Lottery scam criminals target head of police task force

Tuesday, July 24, 2012    

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THE head of the Lottery Scam Task Force, Superintendent Leon Clunis, has been marked for death by criminals involved in the illegal activity, the Jamaica Observer has learnt.

According to a highly placed Government source, law enforcers have received information that a "credible threat" exists against the superintendent, and the only reason that an attempt has not yet been made on his life is that his identity is not known to a number of people.

"The information we have is that lottery scammers in Montego Bay are trying to get a fix on his identity and to study his movements," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"That kind of behaviour usually precedes attacks on people's lives," the source added.

An attempt to get a comment from Clunis yesterday evening was not successful as his cellphone went to voicemail and he did not return the call, as requested.

The Lottery Scam Task Force has been making serious dents in the illegal activity, which has been blamed for a number of murders in St James since 2007 when the scam started. The unit was established with the help of American law enforcers as the illegal operation has also robbed US citizens of millions of dollars.

In May this year, Senior Superintendent Fitz Bailey, head of the Organised Crime Investigation Division, told the Observer that between 2007 and 2009 the police confiscated US$283,000 in cash from criminals connected to the scam. Bailey also revealed that since February this year $3 million in cash has been seized by the police, who have also confiscated 40 high-end luxury vehicles and detained 102 persons, most of them below the age of 30.

"We have arrested 16 and 17-year-olds. Imagine, a 20-year-old who owns all these expensive assets and can't account for them. There was one who got someone from Italy to design his house," Bailey said in that May interview.

An Observer source in Montego Bay also revealed that at one stage the police arrested a 15-year-old boy who owned at least three houses and three motor cars from proceeds of the lotto scam, yet he was unable to read or write.

But the scam has triggered conflict among those involved, resulting in a string of murders in St James. Among them was one man who Senior Superintendent Bailey said got $800 million from the scam and was killed by his relative over the money.

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