National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, and Police Commissioner, Owen Ellington, have hailed the efforts and successes of the Anti-Lottery Task Force in curtailing the illicit lottery scam, emanating out of western Jamaica.
Speaking at Wednesday's (July 18) Jamaica House/post-Sectoral Debate media briefing, at the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Bunting said since its establishment in January, the Task Force has been “phenomenally successful” in seizing the proceeds and assets derived from the activity, which was estimated at US$300 million in 2011.
“Scores of high end vehicles have been seized on various operations and hundreds of millions of the equivalent Jamaican dollars. This task force (has been) a tremendous success,” he declared.
Commissioner Ellington, who also spoke at the briefing, disclosed that the task force has made “well over 100 arrests,” some of which he described as “significant,” since it commenced operations, adding that currently, it is “focusing on the key players."
Mr. Bunting told journalists that the lotto scam has been designated a Tier I threat to Jamaica, based on the “clear and present danger” it poses to the country.
“It is doing tremendous damage to our reputation internationally. It has the potential to (negatively) impact our tourism product, and our investments, particularly in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector,” the Minister said.
In this regard, Mr. Bunting said the security forces have been given a “free hand” to conduct their investigations, and make the attendant arrests, consistent with the intelligence they have garnered.
“The security forces know that no one in this society, regardless of their position or political affiliation, will get any political protection from this administration, nor should they,” the Minister declared.
Commissioner Ellington attributed the task force’s successes, in part, to capabilities which were previously dedicated to the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) anti-corruption efforts.
“It is our intention to focus on the top players in the lottery scam for as long as it takes to break the back of that activity. It’s been very successful and we will continue with it,” he assured.
Regarding possible extradition of major players, consistent with the provisions of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), Mr. Ellington expressed confidence that based on recent arrests and the extent of those individuals’ involvement in the scam, coupled with the evidence that has been forthcoming, “there are clear possibilities that we could get extradition requests.”
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter