Wed | Nov 14, 2018

Scores held in massive MoBay anti-prostitution raids

Published:Saturday | January 23, 2016 | 12:00 AMOkoye Henry, Adrian Frater
Alleged prostitutes being escorted into the Freeport Police Station, in Montego Bay, after they were detained in an early moring operation in the western city.
Alleged prostitutes getting ready for the trip to the Freeport Police Station after they were detained in an early moring operation in the Montego Bay.
Alleged prostitutes ushered into a police truck after being detained in an early morning operation in Montego Bay, St James.

Seventy six persons, 43 females and 33 males, who the police say were operating as illicit sex workers, were rounded up and detained yesterday morning in a massive police operation which covered several sections of downtown Montego Bay.

"Then is so much prostitute deh a Montego Bay ... all man prostitute to, but a wha dis father," remarked a passer-by as he watched lawmen loading the accused persons into several police vehicles.

The operation, which involved the Mobile Reserve as well as a team probing human trafficking, targeted several key locations across the Second City, to include the Hip Strip (Gloucester Avenue), Harbour Street, Church Street, Market Street, and the Charles Gordon Market.



Among those held were three underage girls, whose unexplained presence on the streets is a major concern to Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor, the commanding officer for the St James Police division.

"Their (the underage girls) cases will be treated differently because this could be a case of human trafficking, which would be most unfortunate," said McGregor, who intimated that the girls' parents could find themselves in trouble with the law if they are found to be complicit in any way.

In addition to the alleged prostitutes, the operators of three of the city's unlicenced clubs, where sex acts were reportedly being carried out, were also taken into custody.

"What is quite glaring is that 90 per cent of these people are not from St James," said McGregor, who held a press conference in the aftermath of the operation. "These ladies are from parishes such as St Ann, Portland and Kingston, as well as neighbouring Westmoreland and Hanover."



Commenting on the operation, McGregor said that the police had been informed that scantily dressed females were roaming the streets of the city offering sexual favours at a cost.

"We realise that (we had) females walking on the street scantily dressed, can't properly account for their whereabouts, where they are from or what they are doing, and are posing a danger to themselves and the parish," said McGregor, who also pointed to a recent incident in which an alleged prostitute was killed in downtown Montego Bay - the first murder in St James for 2016. "Police intelligence showed that the woman (who was killed) was a known prostitute who was close to the age of 50 years old," said McGregor.

It is understood that of the men who were detained, some were pimps while others were in the process of engaging the alleged female prostitutes in sexual favours. According to the police, however, at least three of the men were actually "putting themselves out for sale".

At press time, several of the detainees were interviewed, processed and released. Among those kept back were the three teens, whose parents will be brought in for questioning.