Eight more going - Alleged scammers to be extradited to US today
Eight Jamaicans, including a police constable, who are accused of being part of a lottery scam network that fleeced scores of elderly American citizens out of US$5.6 million, or nearly J$500 million, are to be extradited to the United States today, law-enforcement officials have revealed.
According to one Jamaican law-enforcement official, the five men and three women are to be handed over to US authorities at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.
The eight, police Constable Jason Jahalal, Alrick McLeod, O'Neil Brown, Dario Palmer, Kazrae Gray, Kimberly Hudson, Xanu-Ann Morgan and Dahlia Hunter, are facing a 66-count indictment in the state of North Dakota. They are each charged with one count of conspiracy and attempting to commit wire fraud, 48 counts of wire fraud, 15 counts of mail fraud and one count of money laundering.
Prosecutors in North Dakota have charged that they were part of a criminal organisation, led by another Jamaican - identified as Lavrick Willocks - that used an advance fee or lottery scam scheme to fleece 80 elderly victims of approximately US$5.6 million.
Willocks was apprehended last November in the garden of a Kingston hotel and extradited to the US in January after waiving his right to a hearing.
For nearly a year, the eight alleged members of the Willocks organisation fought extradition to the US, arguing, through their attorneys, that two of the charges for which they are wanted are not offences under Jamaican law.
As a result, they argued, during their extradition hearing in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court, that handing them over to US authorities would offend Jamaica's laws, and asked Parish Judge Vaughn Smith to find that the offences of mail and wire fraud are not "extraditable".
But Smith rejected the argument. He acknowledged that mail and wire fraud were not offences in Jamaica, but said the substance of both charges were captured under the Larceny Act.
Pointing to Section Three of the legislation, Smith said the offences of larceny and simple larceny were "corresponding offences to wire fraud and mail fraud".
The extradition hearing also featured allegations by several cooperating witnesses that Constable Jahalal was present in a Florida hotel room when another man collected US$35,000 - proceeds from the lottery scam - to transport to Jamaica and also collected remittances sent by alleged co-conspirators in the US.