Nagra Plunkett, Assignment Coordinator
PNP councillors arrested in early morning St James raids
WESTERN BUREAU:Rocked by the revelation that two of its St James councillors, including a deputy mayor, were arrested during a lottery scam raid in Montego Bay, the People's National Party (PNP) yesterday declared it would take a wait-and-see approach in the matter.
Those held are Montego Bay Deputy Mayor Michael Troupe, of the Granville division, and Sylvan Reid, a first-time councillor of the Salt Spring division. The two men were detained during simultaneous operations led by the anti-lottery scam task force in the communities of Pitfour, Granville and Cornwall Courts.
Three other men, including two of Troupe's sons, were also taken into custody.
The Gleaner understands that Troupe, his sons, and Reid have been "detained on conspiracy to defraud charges".
The PNP in a statement said while it has grave concerns, the party accepts the principle of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
"The People's National Party will offer no protection to any of its members or supporters who are engaged in criminal activities and will not seek to interfere or influence the work of the security forces in this regard," said PNP Chairman Robert Pickersgill.
"Both as a political party and as government, we remain committed to the fight against criminality and will fully cooperate with the security forces to reduce and eliminate criminal activities in the country."
During the operation, which began shortly after 5 a.m., an illegal firearm, J$380,000 taken from a defective computer and US$10,000 were found in a bedroom, occupied by Troupe's son, at the deputy mayor's Pitfour home.
According to the head of the task force, Superintendent Leon Clunis, "The US$10,000 was concealed in a textbook cut to fit, but we were able to find it. ... Mr Troupe and his son, Jovaughn, have been taken into custody for further questioning that may assist in our investigations."
Two motor cars - a Honda Civic and a 2008 Toyota Crown - were also seized from Troupe's residence. The security team also swooped down on another of Troupe's sons in Rhyne Park, St James. That son was also arrested and two Honda motor cars taken from the premises.
During the operation in Cornwall Courts, Montego Bay, targeting Reid, a Honda CR-V and electronic equipment were confiscated from his home. A man who was at the house at the time of the raid was also taken into custody. His status was unclear.
Meanwhile, the PNP said it would continue to monitor developments in these cases to ensure that the affected parish council divisions are adequately represented.