JIS News

Just one year old, and already Operation Kingfish is creating waves in the fight against organized crime, as it is successfully putting a big dent in the criminal networks in Jamaica.
With several organized criminal networks severely impacted, 140 illegal weapons seized, three illegal air strips used for trafficking drugs destroyed, and 235 persons arrested for various offences, head of Operation Kingfish, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Glenmore Hinds believes the Task Force is meeting its precise mandate.
Mr. Hinds tells JIS News that Kingfish’s precise mandate is to dismantle the major organized criminal networks operating in Jamaica, which he estimates to be about 13.
He says it is important to identify the common theme among them, to better dismantle their operations. “They all have a common theme, in that they are all involved in illegal drug trafficking, illegal arms running and extortion, so we felt that it was necessary as a first step to starve these networks of funding,” he stresses.
One of the first steps taken by Kingfish to ensure this was done, was to aggressively pursue maritime conveyance, which resulted in the seizure of some 53 boats as well as the interception of cocaine coming into the island.
But the Task Force did not stop there, as they sought to tackle the issue of illegal airstrips, three of which have been completely destroyed. “The other thing we looked at is if you impact on the maritime conveyance, then certainly the traffickers would then resort to some other mode and so we also began to look at our illegal airstrips and we were able to disable three of those,” Assistant Commissioner Hinds points out.
In terms of impacting the major organized criminal networks, he says that one has been totally dismantled, the activities of five others have been severely disrupted, while the others have all been impacted in some way.
“Some key players in these networks were also arrested .and these were some of the major successes that we would have made during our one year of operation,” he informs.
Based on these successes, Mr. Hinds says the progress made has been quite encouraging. “One would not want to say one is totally satisfied but I think the progress is quite satisfying,” he tells JIS News.Operation Kingfish has also seized some 12 metric tonnes of cocaine and some 4,300 pounds of ganja. This is in addition to destroying 7 hectares of fully grown ganja plants and some 225,000 seedlings, plus 13 nurseries.
While Kingfish is basking in its success, Mr. Hinds points out that the Task Force is really building on the successes and mistakes of other units.
“One of the things that was very evident when we started, is that we looked at the branches that would impact major organized criminal networks, that is intelligence operation and investigation, and the Task Force’s mandate was to consolidate intelligence that is already in hand, to further collect that which is to be collected and analyse these, and then we determine operational approaches and investigative leads,” he explains.
As such, one of the things that is working in Kingfish’s favour, Assistant Commissioner Hinds says, is that there is a cadre of useful investigators. “We have been building capacities within them to ensure that we do perform investigative work to a standard that won’t give too much difficulty in proving offences in court,” he says.
“We do strive to ensure that our case preparation is to the standard that will almost certainly guarantee us conviction in our courts of law and so that is one particular area of focus that we are diligent about,” he adds.
Mr. Hinds made special mention of the Task Force’s toll free hotline, 811, which is managed by Crime Stop.
“So far, we have received over 90 actionable calls and in the majority of these they have provided useful leads in investigations, and have led to the discovery and recovery of illegal firearms and wanted persons. To the extent that we are receiving calls, which are actionable and which are proving quite successful, we think there is a level of trust that we have built and we will continue to improve on this,” he tells JIS News.
As Operation Kingfish continues to fight organized crime, Mr. Hinds says the team members learn from each operation and each investigation, and the idea is to improve on them at all times. “It is a constant learning process and I would also want to say that our overseas partners certainly have brought some expertise to our investigations, so it is a process that we continue to learn from day to day,” he says, adding that they rely on all the capacities that exist to ensure that they build cases and do investigative work.
The Assistant Commissioner says it must be remembered that there are other crimes that the Task Force will not necessarily impact on. “So to use the national statistic to judge Operation Kingfish would not necessarily be a good medium or a good yard stick, but to the extent that we can impact on the major organized criminal networks, I think that is a good one to be measured by,” he says.
He says the work of the Task Force will be on-going until it achieves its goal, and they will also continue to identify illegal airstrips and to deal with illegal maritime activities. “To the extent that Jamaica is an island and we are always going to be challenged to police every square inch of our coastal waters, and that is a major challenge, but to the extent that we understand what is happening, I think we can have a impact on it,” he says.
When Operation Kingfish was launched, it was partnered by the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, with assistance varying from country to country. This included the deployment of persons to work with the Task Force and the provision of technical advice and other forms of support.
The Assistant Commissioner is appealing to the general public to continue to provide the Task Force with useful information. “We guarantee that whatever we get we will act on in a prompt manner. We are also appealing to persons who are witnesses to serious crimes, that they need to come in and once we determine that they are witnesses, we will put them in a witness protection programme,” he points out.
He has high praise for this programme, as they have never lost any of their witnesses. “We have had to look after our witnesses because it is one of our obligations to ensure that we secure them,” the Assistant Commissioner says.