Wed | Aug 16, 2017

More scammers on US radar for extradition

Published:Saturday | April 2, 2016 | 4:00 AM
File Watkiss

At least 14 major players involved in lottery scamming in Jamaica are believed to be on the radar of United States authorities who are working with their Jamaican counterparts in an effort to bring local scammers to justice in the United States (US).

Investigators yesterday were probing another suspect in connection with last week's lottery scam bust in which 19 persons, including a Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) policeman, were detained.

"Another person was picked up afterwards. He makes eight persons for whom extradition warrants are being prepared," said Assistant Police Commissioner Devon Watkiss, head of the Counter Terrorist and Organised Crime Branch (C-TOC). The others were still being processed, he said.

COURT APPEARANCE

Watkiss remained reserved in giving information on the two-day operation in which the policeman was arrested and J$1.8 million seized. He said, however, that the men could go before the courts as early as next week and that more lawmen could come under investigation as the probe widens.

"When we investigate, we investigate everybody. Our investigation does not discriminate against anybody special. We investigate anybody who falls within the realm," Watkiss reassured the public on Friday.

The 19 individuals were arrested during a four-parish sweep by members of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-corruption Agency (MOCA), C-TOC, the Mobile Reserve, and the Financial Investigations Division, among other police formations.

More than 200 persons were detained in the operations which targeted the communities of Bunkers Hill, Greenwood, Lilliput, Holland Estate, Bamboo Avenue, and other areas.

"These operations are continuing in pursuit of the pertinent individuals, and having already accounted for more than 20 locations, the proceeds from their illegal activities, illegal firearm, and ammunition, and other related criminal activities, we continued to go after them and their illicit activity," said Watkiss, following the arrests last week.

The Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions, Special Provisions) Act 2013, more popularly called the Lottery Scam Act, makes provision for offences relating to lottery scamming, advanced fee fraud, and other fraudulent transactions.

Almost two dozen Jamaicans have been indicted or issued with extradition warrants since the law took effect. In 2014, the US Attorney's Office in North Dakota indicted 17 Jamaicans and Americans for their alleged involvement in the scheme.

Sanjay Williams, one of those indicted, was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison, while Damion Barrett of St James became the first Jamaican to be extradited for lottery scam allegations.