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Criminal bigwigs in security minister's cross hairs

Friday, June 22, 2018

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NATIONAL Security Minister Dr Horace Chang yesterday charged that his Administration will be targeting major players in the criminal underworld who wealthy and are funding criminal activities across the island.

The minister also indicated that legitimate business operators and government workers, including police officers and customs officers, who help to facilitate the illegal operations of these bigwigs will also be targeted.

“The gangs that are doing the killings among themselves are known to be shooters of each other over turf, oftentimes, and like in scamming over money and other resources much of the criminal activities at that level are being driven by individuals who have huge amounts of money,” Dr Chang told the media yesterday following his address at a Rotary Club of Kingston luncheon at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston.

The minister also said that a significant portion of the guns that are brought into the island illegally have been smuggled in to provide security for those influential people who are operating in the criminal underworld, specifically as it relates to scamming, the drugs trade and the guns-for-drugs trade.

“Those individuals who are operating at that level with multimillion-dollar accounts have to have collaboration with businesses, elements at government institution — be it the police, customs or otherwise — in order to function, and until you get to some of those elements, there will be operators at that level, as I call them, they are really operating like a corporate operation, you have to get those corporations out of the place else you will always have a return to killings,” Dr Chang said.

He added: “Just arresting the average shottas from West Kingston or South West St Andrew or Montego Bay or Savanna-la-Mar will not stop the bloodletting, so we have to create a force that will find, apprehend and lock down the killers who wander around from time to time but also find those who facilitate it by [being involved] in serious money-earning transnational crimes that have in fact, penetrated our society.”

According to the security minister, Government is committed to ensuring that this comes to fruition.

“It will take a little time, it won't be done overnight, but we will move aggressively. This Government is committed to moving further by not only getting killers but getting those who facilitate it,” he stressed.

While refusing to say exactly what measures will be employed to crack down on those players, the minister said the plan will include amendment to legislations such as the Anti-gang Act and Proceeds of Crime Act.

He said there will also be new legislation involving the use of electronic evidence by video, to expand on the technical support of police to allow them to increase capacities.

“Be it camera or otherwise, we have to find a way to convert our intelligence to evidence; there are some big players out there we have to lock up,” the minister said.

“We have to look at the entire suite of legislation to make sure that the security team and the justice department have the kind of legislations that will impact on the modern criminals,” Chang said.

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