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Money mules - Criminals using the innocent to do their banking

Published:Sunday | January 17, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Devon Watkis

Members of the local criminal underworld are trying to avoid detection by the police by asking unsuspecting individuals to open bank accounts and saving the money for them.

But this could land these individuals in trouble with the law.

"I'm on the record of warning persons not to be used to set up accounts for those individuals. Persons are being used to go to the bank and open accounts to facilitate the movement of stolen money and for it to be withdrawn. They should stay away from this," said Assistant Commissioner Devon Watkiss, who heads the police's Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Branch.

According to Watkiss, many of the active major players in organised crime locally are under surveillance by investigators and cannot use their bank accounts for transactions.

This causes them to turn to unsuspecting Jamaicans to open accounts for them through which they can do their financial transactions.

But Watkiss is warning that this could have severe consequences as several persons were detained and investigated last year for setting up accounts for criminal enterprises.

He said on occasions the police have had to intercept money that was stolen locally and lodged in international accounts, or was derived from the transnational drug trade and was destined for criminal hands in Jamaica.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com