The current National Security Policy (NSP) identified, like many reports over the past decade, that crime and corruption are the principal obstacles to Jamaica’s growth and development. The NSP also recognised a common misconception that the way to make progress against organised crime is to disrupt specific forms of criminal activity e.g. narcotics trafficking.
However, that traditional approach does not allow for the flexibility and adaptability demonstrated by successful career criminals, who have been adept at identifying and moving into new areas of criminal activity.
Career criminals are in the business of making money, so the only way to permanently reduce the level of crime is to “take the profit out of crime” – the first key reform/recommendation from the NSP.
Flowing from the recommendation, the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption (MOCA) Task Force was formed to focus on the top bosses of organised crime who enjoy and control the profits, and their facilitators – the public officials, lawyers, accountants, bankers, businessmen, real estate brokers, and others who operate in both the licit and illicit worlds.
The Anti-Corruption Branch of the JCF had been formed a few years earlier to focus on a subset of these corrupt activities – those involving police personnel.
I am today pleased to announce the merger of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force and the Anti-Corruption Branch of the JCF with immediate effect.
The new entity will be called the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), retaining the MOCA acronym, and will be headed by Colonel D. T. Edwards of the JDF, who is being seconded for a transitional period to oversee and coordinate the merger.
This merger is an interim step in a longer-term plan to create a national law enforcement agency, which will be the subject of a future cabinet submission.
This agency, whilst still primarily a JCF/JDF effort, will have the capacity to conduct independent investigations and report to the National Security Council, through the Minister of National Security, on matters of policy and performance. It will also continue to work with other government entities particularly the Financial Investigations Division (FID) from the Ministry of Finance, as well as the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency, Jamaica Customs Department, the Revenue Protection Division, the Registrar General’s Department, and the Tax Administration of Jamaica.
A Steering Committee, chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security and including senior officers of the JCF and JDF, will have oversight responsibility for the policy implementation of the agency. Through this committee the agency’s work will be monitored and the results made available to the general public as appropriate.
There has been considerable overlap in the two mandates of the ACB and MOCA, both in tackling serious organised crime and stamping out corruption, and the decision to merge reflects the outstanding working relationships that have been forged between the two organisations that have fostered an atmosphere of confidence, trust, and mutual respect. This has resulted in the sharing of information, intelligence, and technical expertise in a way that has avoided compromise and has led to significant success against organised crime and corruption.
There is still a long way to go but I expect this measure to result in greater effectiveness through better use of limited resources in the fight against criminals and corruption. The new agency will give us greater reach and increase our capacity to carry out investigations on people of interest, including the police and those in public office. This will in turn produce an enhanced capability to prosecute criminals.
The two organisations have demonstrated their competence and I believe that pooling their collective talents together in a single more capable agency can only improve performance. The officers in both units have been vetted to the highest standards and are trusted and capable.
The results for these two organisations have been notable thus far, but we need to look beyond the headlines: many individuals under investigation previously regarded themselves as operating with impunity – that is now being proved to no longer be the case. The new agency will continue to investigate corruption and organised crime wherever it occurs as both MOCA and ACB have in the past.
This development should not be seen in isolation. There are additional laws and procedures being enacted that will assist in this process and together demonstrate the Government’s commitment to this most serious of issues. This includes the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provisions) Act, commonly referred to as the Anti Lottery Scamming Law, the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) Act also known as the Anti Gang Law, and the recent amendments to POCA to bring our legislation in alignment with the Financial Action Task Force’s recommendations to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing.
As we put this agency in place I appeal to all members of the public to assist in the continual fight against corruption and organised crime. People must come forward and give information without fear or compromise. This is an issue that needs all of our collective support and active involvement.
We must all take a firm stand against the subculture of violence and criminality, isolate those who are involved in these activities, and ensure that they do not compromise our vision of the future for our country.
We are now firmly on the journey in our unceasing fight to stamp out corruption in our country and to address the kingpins of serious organised crime and their facilitators. This measure is a milestone on that journey and with the other legal and judicial measures and with everyone’s help together we will unite to secure our future, our families’ future, and that of future generations.