MONTEGO BAY, St James — Deputy Mayor of Montego Bay Michael Troupe and his People's National Party (PNP) colleague Sylvan Reid were among five people taken into custody yesterday during pre-dawn raids carried out by members of the Lottery Scam Task Force.
Troupe, 56, who is also the PNP councillor for the Granville Division in St James, was led from his Granville residence in handcuffs following one of the raids which began simultaneously about 5:00 am. He was accompanied by one of his sons who was at the house at the time of the police operation.
Another son of the deputy mayor was also taken into custody, allegedly in connection with the lottery scam, after the police raided his Rosedale Estate home.
Reid, who was elected councillor for the Salt Spring division in the March local government elections, was reportedly picked up by the police at his Cornwall Courts home in the city.
It was not clear at what point the fifth person was held.
Meanwhile, the police said an illegal 9mm pistol, with a magazine loaded with five live rounds; more than US$10,000 and J$380,000 were allegedly found during the raid at the deputy mayor's home in a room occupied by one of his sons, who has since claimed responsibility for the firearm. The son is expected to be charged with illegal possession of firearm.
The US currency, the police alleged, was discovered concealed in the cut-out section of a textbook, while the Jamaican money was found stashed inside a seemingly defective computer.
Two motor vehicles, including a 2008 Toyota Crown, were also seized from Troupe's premises by the police.
During the raid at Reid's Cornwall Courts home several items, including large plasma television sets were seized, the police said. Reid was taken into custody after he reportedly refused to speak to the police in the absence of his attorney. A Honda Civic motor car was also seized from the first-time councillor's premises. Another man who was at the house at the time of the raid was also taken
Yesterday, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, in responding to media queries following the sitting of Parliament, said that she could not make a comment as she was unaware of the details surrounding the arrests of her two councillors.
"The PNP and the Government are standing by the statement we issued earlier today. We are standing by every word in that statement. We cannot make any further comment until we know what happened," she said.
PNP Chairman Robert Pickersgill, in that statement, said the party viewed with grave concern the arrests of two of its members, but added that the PNP accepted the principle of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and the right of those arrested to have their day in court.
"Both as a political party and as Government, we remain committed to the fight against criminality and will fully cooperate with the security forces to reduce and eliminate criminal activities in the country," said Pickersgill.
Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, Member of Parliament for West Central St James, which includes Granville, said that she had no knowledge of what happened as she was involved with preparing for her sectoral
At the same time, PNP Deputy General Secretary Julian Robinson said that the party would ensure that the people of both divisions continue to have proper representation in the parish council.
— See today's Observer West for more