Nagra Plunkett, Assignment Coordinator
The police are calling for a reversal of the culture of tolerance that has been adapted by the citizenry of western Jamaica to the US$1-billion lottery scam.
"Over the last couple of months, since the real issues and challenges surrounding this phenomenon came about, you have been getting a lot of reasons why we shouldn't be doing anything about it," shared acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Devon Watkiss, who is in charge of the Area One Police Division.
"I heard a female giving an account of why 'the boy should be left alone' asking if we are going to 'find work give to them'. But in a democratic society where we are pushing the principles of honesty, ethics, morality, and an environment of legality, then we really cannot encourage or even countenance such thinking."
Watkiss, who has responsibility for Trelawny, St James, Hanover and Westmoreland, was addressing a luncheon hosted by the Rotary Club of Montego Bay at Sandals Royal yesterday.
The senior police officer spoke on the topic of money laundering and its relationship with the scamming phenomenon.
The lottery scam involves players conning mainly United States retirees into sending monies to clear winnings in a bid to avoid excessive taxation in that jurisdiction.
The con is a nightmare for local law-enforcement officers who have even sought the help of their international counterparts to stem the practice.
Watkiss, in establishing the severity of money laundering (the concealment of ill-gotten wealth), linked its role to the channelling of funds and acquiring of assets that were principal in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York.
"(If) we sit by and fail to recognise that those issues in fact affect us, then we may be seeing more and more issues of death and multiple deaths affecting us," added Watkiss.
"But having looked at the data for the last couple of years, Montego Bay, the Second City, with its affiliation to tourism, has been recording a high incidence of murders, and at least 60 per cent of the confirmed cases have established relationship to the scamming phenomenon and that makes me concerned."
Since January, a total of 110 homicides have been recorded in St James. The figure is five more than the number for the corresponding period in 2011.