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COPS NABBED IN US DRUG BUST - Three St James constables charged; fourth suspect flown home being grilled

Published:Thursday | June 25, 2020 | 12:00 AMHopeton Bucknor/Gleaner Writer
Commissioner Antony Anderson has placed the rooting out of corruption among police ranks as an important target.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Three western Jamaica cops were charged on Tuesday in a sweeping narcotics operation involving high-profile United States law-enforcement agents in two American cities.

All of the police personnel operate within the St James Police Division.

The arrested cops were reportedly intercepted by agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Atlanta and Charlotte.

They have been identified as Woman Constable Shermain Latoya Gooden, Constable Dremar Graham, and Constable Trevonne Davidson.

The fourth cop, a woman constable, was flown back home and is now in the custody of the St James police. She has not been identified.

Dennis Brooks, a communication specialist for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), confirmed that the four had interactions with security agents in the US.

In a press statement issued late Wednesday evening, the JCF credited ongoing investigations and intelligence sharing between the JCF and US counterparts for the arrest of the three Jamaican constables.

Gleaner sources have revealed that three of the implicated constables are assigned to the Granville Police Station while the fourth works out of the Freeport Police Station. At the time they were held in the US, two of the four police personnel were scheduled to be on duty and had apparently left the island without the knowledge or consent of their supervisors.

The woman constable, who was flown back to Jamaica on Tuesday, was undergoing intensive interrogation on Wednesday night.

“I know she is being questioned, but I am not able to say whether or not she is cooperating,” a police source told The Gleaner. “This is a most embarrassing situation for the organisation, but we intend to get to the bottom of it.”

Two of the cops were nabbed in an operation in the city of Charlotte in North Carolina while the other two were held in Atlanta, Georgia.

All four constables were flagged by security agents for questioning.

The actions of three of the constables caused suspicion, and a subsequent search turned up contraband believed to be cocaine.

The incident has again turned the spotlight on the St James police, which has had a storied history of police corruption in relation to drug crimes, lottery scamming, and involvement with criminal gangs.

“While it is embarrassing, it is not a secret that we do have officers whose names come up from time to time in shady activities, but it is sometimes quite challenging to catch them red-handed,” a senior officer told The Gleaner. “Some of these guys (policemen) are mixed up with scammers and gangsters, but it is difficult to nail them in the act.”

The operation evokes memories of the 2009 interdiction of 18 police personnel assigned to the Mt Salem Police Station for alleged involvement in the illicit lottery, which has been the main source of funding for criminal gangs.