The Government's efforts to arrest the incidence of organised crime and corruption have been boosted by the establishment of the Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA).
The entity, which was launched by National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, at the Police Officers’ Club on Hope Road, St. Andrew, on Monday (June 4), will focus on identifying, investigating and prosecuting major players engaging in organised crimes, their facilitators, and corrupt public officials and, in the process, confiscating ill-gotten proceeds, thereby taking the profits out of crime.
A multi-agency organization, the Task Force’s core staff will comprise members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), with support from the Ministry of Justice; and the Ministry of Finance and Planning through the Financial Investigation Division (FID), Customs Department, and Taxpayer Audit and Assessment Department (TAAD), as well as civilian personnel.
Former Head of the Narcotics Division, Assistant Commissioner Carl Williams, who was instrumental in establishing the Anti-Lotto Scam Task Force in the JCF's
Area 1, comprising the parishes of St. James, Trelawny, Hanover and Westmoreland, has been appointed MOCA’s Director.
Speaking at the launch, Mr. Bunting, said the Task Force’s establishment signaled a “change in policy emphasis”, shifting focus from street level criminals to target persons identified as the kingpins and their facilitators, who “enjoy and control the profits”.
The Minister said intelligence has shown that criminals are not, currently engaged in illicit activities such as the trafficking of narcotics or guns, but “are “in the business of making money”.
“Crime is motivated, primarily, by profit and the only way to permanently reduce the level of crime is to take the profit out of crime,” he argued, while pointing out that the Task Force was one of the recommendations coming out of the drafting of the 2012/16 National Security Policy.
Minister Bunting advised that the Task Force will be supported by experienced prosecutors and forensic accountants, with additional contributions from liaison officers affiliated with other relevant local and international agencies.
He further informed that MOCA will be “selective” in its operations, focusing, primarily, on “high value” targets and cases that “have a profoundly negative impact on our national security environment”.
“We are, today, embarking on a challenging but profoundly important initiative. We are also hoping that Jamaicans of good will, who have information about the operations of the concealed assets of these kingpins, their facilitators, or corrupt public officials, will pass on this information to MOCA,” Mr. Bunting said, while assuring that their confidentiality will be safeguarded.
In his remarks, MOCA’s Director, assured that the new agency will not duplicate the operations of any of the JCF’s other Divisions, but rather complement them.
He also assured of the integrity of MOCA’s staff, advising that candidates had undergone the most rigorous selection criteria and testing procedures, inclusive of polygraph examinations, prior to recruitment.
Justice Minister, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, in welcoming MOCA, said the entity’s establishment is demonstrative of “tremendous foresight” in moving to address the scourge of organized crime. He also pledged his Ministry support to MOCA’s efforts pointing out that “we do see ourselves, really, as one continuum in a process of trying to make Jamaica a safe and just society, for us all”.
In giving his and the JCF’s support, Police Commissioner, Owen Ellington, underscored the justification in establishing the Task Force. He explained that criminals were constantly re-structuring and re-organizing their operations by studying law enforcement strategies.
“If we are unwilling to re-organize, to re-structure and to build new capabilities and to attack and defeat their strategies, we will always be playing catching up and that is why we believe in the value, in the logic of a multi-agency task force, like this, and we will give it our full support,” Mr. Ellington assured.
Opposition Spokesman on National Security and Justice, Delroy Chuck, described MOCA’s formation as a “major move” and a focus which Jamaica should long have engaged in tackling white collar crime. He also urged that care be taken to protect innocent persons from falling victim to the motives of criminals.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter