Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Gov't investigating effect of anti-gang, lottery scam laws in western Jamaica

Published:Monday | January 23, 2017 | 1:45 AM

The Government is investigating the effect of the anti lottery scam and anti-gang laws on the murder rate in western Jamaica and implications for enforcement and crime prevention.

The national security ministry-led investigation started last year and in December, the ministry invited cops from divisions out west to complete a wide-ranging survey.

The laws being looked at are the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) Special Provisions Act 2013 which is due for review three years after its implementation and the Criminal Justice Suppression of Criminal Organisations Act 2014 which is to be reviewed five years after implementation.

Western Jamaica is the epicentre of the deadly lottery scam which involves people calling mainly elderly Americans falsely stating that they have won the lottery and have to pay certain charges to collect the prize.

The lottery scam law was passed by the Jamaican parliament after the US applied pressure on local authorities to respond to the illicit activities which, coupled with gang rivalries, have been a key driver of crime in western Jamaica.

Former Police Commissioner Owen Ellington had argued that judges were being too lenient in sentencing convicted scammers.

Last year, St James alone recorded over 260 murders pushing the homicide rate to 143 per 100,000, or 2.9 times the national average.

With just 22 days gone so far this year, the murder tally has passed 80 or an average of almost four a day.

At this rate, Jamaica is likely to surpass the 1350 murders recorded in 2016.