Chang concerned but not surprised drug dealers able to corrupt soldiersFriday, October 16, 2020
By ARTHUR HALL
MINISTER of National Security Dr Horace Chang has accepted that powerful and rich drug dealers could have corrupted members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), who were involved in a major drug bust in Gutters, St Elizabeth, on Wednesday.
Responding to questions at a media briefing yesterday, Chang pointed out that the trafficking in illegal drugs is a big money business, and admitted that the major players would seek to corrupt anyone to have their way.
“While it is of concern, because there is a view out there that the JDF is pristine compared to the police, I think what happened in St Elizabeth, I am not entirely surprised, because I think the organisers — the big purveyors of drugs — are going to make every attempt to impugn the character of the security forces,” he said.
“They would go out of their way to engage somebody in the JDF, and the Jamaica Defence Force of 8,000 men [and women], they are from the society we are in. All recruits are vetted and there is continuous monitoring and training, but with the kind of money involved in drugs, if they [the drug dealers] pursue it aggressively, I am sure that they will find somebody to break ranks, and that is what happened in St Elizabeth,” added Chang.
The national security minister said the JDF and the police will do the required investigation and deal with the situation.
“But the big drug dealers are going to make every attempt to corrupt the entire legal system in Jamaica, and they have the money to do it. What we have to do is to take steps to prevent it and mitigate the damage,” argued Chang.
He pointed out that in the past year, the local security forces, using increased intelligence, have made a major dent in the drugs trade, with an extremely high rate of seizure of narcotics.
“In fact, we have nowhere to store them at this time, and what we noticed is that there is a significant fightback by the criminals… It is quite unusual, and it means that they are hurting by the volume of seizures taking place,” said Chang, as he pointed to the recent fatal shooting of 21-year-old JDF Private Reneil King during a drug bust in Clarendon, and attacks on members of the police force by suspected drug dealers.
In what police sources are describing as something resembling a “scene from a movie”, at about 9:30 pm Tuesday, members of the police Narcotics Division and other cops attempted to intercept a JDF vehicle and ordered the driver to stop.
However, the occupants of the vehicle opened fire at the cops and a chase ensued. Following the firefight, the vehicle was intercepted and it was confirmed that the two occupants were members of the JDF. They were arrested and ganja weighing between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds was seized.
Other members of the JDF are also being questioned in connection with the seizure.