MONTEGO BAY, St James — PASTOR of the Granville Seventh-day Adventist Church, Charles Brevitt, has called on the United States Government to contain the trafficking of illegal guns into the island with the same fervour with which they are insisting that the Jamaican Government control the lottery scam and the illegal narcotics trade.
"They are allowing guns to leave up there (US) and come down here. We feel that reciprocity ought to be the order of the day. We will control scamming, they must control guns," the tough-talking clergyman charged.
"We don't make guns in Jamaica, we don't have any gun factory in the Caribbean, so in the same way that the Americans are literally holding a gun to our heads to control scammers and to control drug dealers, we must ask them to help us to control the flow of guns into our country."
Last week, at the US Senate Special Committee on Ageing's hearing into the lottery scam, senators called for the extradition of Jamaican lottery scammers.
They argued that enough was not being done by the Jamaican Government to stamp out the illegal practice.
The US authorities have revealed that, in 2011, they received approximately 30,000 complaints from American citizens about Jamaican lottery fraud.
Scammers, it is believed, have fleeced people mainly in the US, of more than US$300 million since it came to prominence about five years ago.
But, Brevitt asserted on Monday that, while the US holds Jamaica accountable for scamming, not enough is being done by them to curb the movement of guns from their country to Jamaican shores.
"We don't feel that the American Government is doing enough to stem the flow of guns into the country, and we feel that physicians should heal thyself! You are holding us responsible for the scammers, and for the drug dealers and the drug manufacturers; we are holding you responsible for not helping us to stop the guns from coming down here," Brevitt emphasised.
The Seventh-day Adventist pastor was among several stakeholders who, during the special meeting of the Granville Peace Justice and Resource Development Foundation, reacted to the negative light in which the community was recently portrayed in the foreign press, following the airing of a documentary by CBS Television in the US in which Granville was featured as the birthplace of the lottery scam and "a dangerous area with a lot of gangs".
Noting that residents "must admit that there are elements of accuracy in the CBS report", Brevitt, however, expressed that it is about time that stakeholders take measures, including infrastructure work, to repair Granville's tarnished image in the international media.
"CBS should be a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block. Let us give CBS reason to come back and look at Granville six months or one year later. When we do what we should do, I believe that CBS will come back and say that you remember the story that we had done with Granville? Well, we are happy to report that we have done a follow-up and this is the reality in Granville".
Head of the Granville Community Development Committee, O Dave Allen, who expressed his sympathy for the mostly elderly American victims of the scam, also lamented that over the past seven years Granville has suffered because of the illegal activity, which he claimed, has resulted in the murder of more than 200 community members.
"While we wish to express our profound sorrow for the distress we have caused the people of America, especially the elderly, we wish to remind Jamaica that we too are victims of this illicit activity. We have suffered dearly in blood. Not a single family has been spared from this carnage as we painfully watched over 200, mostly young men, brutally killed by other young men," Allen bemoaned.
He noted that in recent years the murder and mayhem in Granville have resulted in the exodus of a number of residents from the community.
"It has caused a reduction in attendance at the Granville All-Age, where the student population has dwindled from 1,600 to a mere 400 presently, and a downturn in business, among other ills," added Allen.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the St James Parish Development Committee Mark Kerr-Jarrett has argued that if a social intervention programme is not implemented in Granville soon, future generations could be made to pay dearly as a consequence of the actions of the scammers.