Mum's the word - Cop silent on who gave US law enforcers the nod to help nab alleged MoBay scammers
A police corporal yesterday declined to disclose who gave the authority for American law-enforcement personnel to join their Jamaican counterparts during an operation in St James earlier this year to arrest two of the eight Jamaicans wanted in the United States on lottery scam related charges.
Detective Corporal Nashema Newell also admitted that when the two women, Dahlia Hunter and Kimberly Hudson, were taken into custody during the pre-dawn operation at their four-storey house on Tortuga Drive, she did not advise them of their right to a telephone call and to have an attorney present.
However, she said the women were advised of those rights hours later when they were formally arrested on extradition warrants at the Falmouth Police Station.
"Why you told her then (at the police station)?" asked Hunter's attorney, Tom Tavares-Finson.
"Because it is their right," Newell replied.
"So wasn't it their right at the house as well?" the attorney pressed.
The corporal declined to answer.
Newell was testifying in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court as the extradition hearing for the five men and three women wanted in the US state of North Dakota on a slew of charges began under the watchful eyes of American law-enforcement personnel.
Local law-enforcement officials told The Gleaner that the FBI, the US Marshall Service, the US Postal Investigation Service, and the US Attorney's Office for North Dakota were the American authorities represented in court.
Hunter, Hudson, former police constable Jason Jahalal, Kasrae Gray, Alrick McLeod, Oneil Brown, Xanu Morgan, and Dario Palmer are wanted in North Dakota, where they have each been indicted on 48 counts of wire fraud, 15 counts of mail fraud, and one count each of conspiracy and attempting to commit wire fraud.
It is alleged that they are part of a criminal organisation led by another Jamaican identified as Labrick Willocks. Prosecutors say the gang began operations in Jamaica, the US, and elsewhere in 2009 and used an advance-fee scheme to defraud 80 elderly victims of $5.6 million.
Newell, who is attached to the Jamaica Fugitive Apprehension Team, was the first witness to give evidence. She testified about the early morning operations in which Hunter and Hudson were arrested.
However, responding to questions from attorney-at-law Tom Tavares-Finson, who is representing Hunter, the detective corporal acknowledged that American law-enforcement personnel joined the operations while it was in progress.
"Tell the Jamaican people on what authority were American law-enforcement personnel at the house of a Jamaican conducting a raid?" Tavares-Finson questioned.
"I can't say on whose authority they were there," she replied, before explaining that the Americans were there "observing" what was happening.
Pressed for an answer, Newell invoked a privilege that barred her from disclosing the information.
The hearing is scheduled to continue on September 12.