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Men detained as missing girl, illegal gun found in house

Published:Wednesday | June 12, 2019 | 12:18 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor

Western Bureau:

A teenage girl who went missing from her St Catherine home just over four months ago is now in the custody of the St James police.

She was one of four persons held in a house in New Ramble, also in St James, where an illegal firearm was seized by the security forces during an operation on Monday.

According to reports, about 7:30 a.m., a security team was conducting a house-to-house search in New Ramble, which is considered a hotbed of gang activities. During a search of the house, which was occupied by the 15-year-old girl and three adult males, an Intratec submachine gun and a quantity of ammunition were found.

“It was clear that the little girl was below the age of consent by just looking at her, so we became curious as to why she was alone in the company of three men,” a police officer told The Gleaner yesterday. “When she was questioned, we discovered that she was reported missing by her family, who lives in the Old Harbour area.”

While the three males will be charged for the illegal firearm and the ammunition, the girl’s case will be turned over to the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse to probe the circumstances which led to her being in St James.

“If she was taken away from St Catherine against her wish, it could be a case of kidnapping, or it could also be human trafficking,” said the lawman. “If is discovered that she was involved in any sexual activities with the men, they will also be charged, as having sex with a minor is against the law.”

New Ramble is one of the St James communities generating significant police attention in recent years. Its rugged terrain but proximity to Montego Bay makes it a perfect hideout for gangsters.

Last year, four M16 assault rifles, four ballistic vests, four magazines and more than 100 rounds of ammunition were seized in a joint police-military operation in an isolated section of the community.

“We want the law-abiding citizens of New Ramble to work with the security forces to put an end to the lawlessness, which is giving their community a bad name,” the policeman said. “The mothers in this community should not stand by and allow men to be living openly with an underage girl. That is not right, and they should not allow it.”

Since the start of the year, more than 50 firearms have been seized in St James, which is now under three separate crime-fighting initiatives – a state of emergency, which covered the entire parish, along with Hanover and Westmoreland, a zone of special operations in Mount Salem, and Operation Restore Paradise in downtown Montego Bay.