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Police: Criminals turning to bootleg liquor

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, August 15, 2014    

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THE West Kingston police say they have received information that criminals, seeking ways to fund their illegal operations, have started a new scheme that involves the illegal manufacturing of liquor, which is sold to unsuspecting partygoers.

Senior Superintendent Steve McGregor, head of the West Kingston Police Division, said that along with the liquor criminals were also targeting entertainment venues with illegal brands of cigarettes and other goods stolen from stores and wholesales in and around the downtown Kingston area.

Police said the illegal scheme was uncovered following a series of operations in the division over the last few days, the latest of which led to the seizure of millions of dollars' worth of counterfeit cigarettes and pre-paid phone cards at premises in Jones Town, used for the hosting of entertainment events.

McGregor said the police were led to premises following investigation into a robbery that took place in the vicinity of the Oxford Mall in the city's west end last Friday.

According to McGregor, police received information that a group of men had broken into a wholesale store and stole more than $3 million worth of goods, including phone cards, cigarettes, and other items. Six men were later arrested, he said.

McGregor said that during their investigations the police received additional information, which led to them to Septimus Street in Trench Town. "When we went to Septimus Street we uncovered another case that was even bigger than what we were dealing with before," said McGregor. Police, he said, seized a large quantity of cigarettes, as well as liquor that was illegally manufactured and distributed at parties and dances.

The police have since warned party organisers to ensure they source liquor and other items from reputable establishments.

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