Tue | Oct 17, 2017

Extortionists who target Clarendon, Manchester businesses not members of known gang - CTOC

Published:Sunday | March 5, 2017 | 6:11 PM

The racketeers behind the extortion scheme operating in Clarendon and Manchester are not members of an established criminal network, the head of the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime (CTOC) taskforce, Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifford Chambers, has confirmed.

Speaking on RJR's That's a Wrap with Earl Moxam this afternoon, Chambers revealed that the persons being pursued by the police, and those already in custody including the mastermind, are not members of any known gangs.

Two men who were held with 15 copies of a letter addressed to business owners in both parishes demanding extortion money. The men were held in Manchester and are to be charged with multiple criminal offences.

The police say they have obtained the identities of the others.

The letter sent to businesses in May Pen, Clarendon and Mandeville, Manchester demanded up to J$100,000 monthly from the operators. It threatened to kill the employees and families of the business owners if the money was not paid over.  

Chambers says the police have set up a system in keeping with amendments to the Evidence Act to allow victims in the business community to give evidence by video.

This comes amid a continued reluctance by business owners to report incidents of extortion.

He says although extortion activities have declined, due in part to the sustained presence of the police in Spanish Town, St Catherine racketeering continues in the former capital because of a reluctance to report it to the police.

Chambers claims the police have been able to adequately protect those business owners who have reported threats and activities of extortion to them, but acknowledges that about 90 per cent of those operating illegally are afraid to such crimes because they believe they may be targeted by the police. 

However, he is encouraging business owners not to support extortion activities by paying over funds to criminals, as it makes the matter more difficult for the police.

Chambers adds that business owners should also talk to their families about the threat of extortion. He says operators should also form networks among themselves and strong relationships with the police.