ST JAMES, Jamaica — National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang has noted that lottery scamming continues to be a contributor to crime in the western parishes.
The embattled minister gave the acknowledgement as he addressed a community meeting at the Manning’s School in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland on Thursday.
The community meeting was hosted by the minister to dialogue with Westmoreland residents about the crime situation in the parish.
“They [lotto scammers] link with their friends that have money… They have dropped through the education system and feel that they have nowhere going…they get huge sums of money and to protect themselves, they buy firearms, they buy cars, and to protect themselves, they kill each other,” Chang said.
“There are those who have set up systems to bring in the [lottery scamming] money at a percentage and if it is shared and not shared correctly, another killing takes place,” he continued.
The minister said the government will be increasing the number of police personnel to bolster crime-fighting on the island.
“We must have a police force that is large enough and equipped with the tools required to make them effective. The government is setting about a programme to do that,” said Chang.
The minister stressed that gangs were the original source of crime in Westmoreland.
“There are at least four major gangs; there are several, but four major ones [that] the public is aware of. The Sterling gang and the King’s Valley gang in Grange Hill. The King’s Valley Gang is a very large gang and has been known to be involved in numerous murders.
“Similarly, coming out of Savanna-la-Mar there are two main gangs, the Dexter Street and Dalling Street gangs …and they have been involved in murders for a long time,” the minister told residents.
Noting that the government was aware of the increasing crime situation in St James, Chang said the administration government was “doing the work, and we will indicate other things that will be done. So far, we have sent 47 police officers here, and we have sent several special operations teams into the area”.
He added that the government was also aware of and hurt by the dramatic increase of criminal activities in Westmoreland, leading to an extremely high level of homicides.
“I extend my own sympathy and concerns to the families who have lost loved ones,” Chang said.