Western News

Crushing lotto scamming not enough

Senior policeman warns against criminal backlash

BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter

Thursday, December 06, 2012    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James - HEAD of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA) ACP Carl Williams says proactive action must be taken to prevent a new wave of violent crime in St James following the much-anticipated stamping out of the lottery scam.

“My real fear is that when we get them to stop the scamming they will turn their guns to rob, to create mayhem and generally to create fear in the communities,” ACP Williams said. He noted that the lottery scam task force has made a significant dent in scamming activities since operations began earlier this year.

According to statistics given by the senior cop, the lottery scam has been linked to over 40 per cent, or nearly 400 of the 930 murders recorded in the parish since 2008.

He recalled that prior to the advent of the lottery scam Montego Bay was overwhelmed by a spate of criminal activities, including multiple murders which stemmed from the illicit cocaine trade.

The resort city Montego Bay was a trans-shipment point for drugs leaving Colombia, headed for the United States and the Bahamas.

Williams was speaking last week during a security exposition hosted at the Half Moon Conference Centre in Montego Bay by final-year CARIMAC public relations students at the University of the West Indies Mona, Western Jamaica Campus in partnership with the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI).

Williams was quick to point out that the expected new wave of violence can be averted by programmes such as were explored by CARIMAC exposition and other police initiatives. “So we are going to have to brace for the next wave of crime in this parish — that is if we fail to take steps to prevent it. And I have a good feeling that this event here today is the first step to preventing the next wave that certainly will come if we don’t act,” the 29-year veteran the force said.

“But how are we going to do it? As police we have to be vigilant. We have to put ourselves a step ahead of purveyors of organised crime. And we have already started,” he said, describing the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force as “a bold new initiative …”

He noted that since February when the lottery scam task force commenced operations in St James, 368 persons have been arrested in 32 major operations. Thirty people were subsequently charged with lottery scam-related offences.

The task force had also seized 123 vehicles — seven of which had been forfeited to the Crown — two firearms, more that $30 million in cash of varying currencies, 80 computers, 500 cellphone among other items.

“With all of this we are still working and a lot of people will think the lottery scam task force just went out and just seized people’s property indiscriminately and then arrested people indiscriminately. That is only one part of the process. Even after the operations our investigation continue and we hope that many of the people who have been involved, we will be able to make them account when the time comes,” Williams said.

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