Fri | Sep 21, 2018

Extradition wave - More US requests for lottery scammers flood in

Published:Wednesday | December 27, 2017 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett
Delroy Chuck: “No extradition request stays on my desk longer than an hour.”

Jamaican authorities are now in possession of "a number" of extradition requests, made by their counterparts in the United States (US), for persons accused of being involved in the deadly lottery scam.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck acknowledged, during a recent interview, that he was aware of the extradition requests but revealed that they had not yet gone through the processes set out in law.

"They have been brought to my attention. There are some pending that have to go through the process," Chuck told The Gleaner.

The disclosure comes eight months after the US Embassy in Kingston warned that prosecutors in several cities across the US were getting ready to unleash a wave of extradition requests for persons believed to be involved in the scam.

In April, as eight Jamaicans, including a police constable, were about to be extradited to North Dakota to face a slew of lottery scam-related charges, Joshua Polacheck, then counsellor for public affairs at the US Embassy, warned that "American prosecutors had dozens of cases" that are "at the extradition stage".

"That means most of them are with US attorneys [offices], getting ready to be sent to the Ministry of Justice," said Polacheck, explaining the "extradition stage".

He revealed, too, that Jamaican and US law enforcement agencies were jointly pursuing between 3,000 and 5,000 lottery scam investigations and indicated that as many as 300 cases were at the pre-extradition stage.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg. We expect to see just a steady flow of people going up to the United States to face justice for this crime," he declared then.

Jamaican law enforcement insiders revealed that nearly all the requests received in recent weeks are for offences related to the lottery scam, or advance-fee scheme, used to bilk elderly American citizens of millions of dollars.

"Quite a few lottery scammers are listed, but I can't tell you the number," one insider revealed.

In most cases, according to the insider, the individuals have not yet been apprehended by the security forces.

However, Chuck again revealed that he has a one-hour policy once all the legal procedures have been completed and the relevant documentation gets to his desk.

"No extradition request stays on my desk longer than an hour," Chuck insisted.

"Once it has been approved by the courts and the file comes to my desk, within an hour, it is dealt with," he stressed.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com