POLICE say criminals involved in the lottery scam have been moving their illegal operations to parishes that once showed no trace of the multimillion-dollar underground operations that has left a trail of blood and destruction, mainly across western parishes.
“This new development, we believe, is a desperate attempt by criminals to avoid the dragnet that law enforcers have been using to place players involved in this multimillion-dollar operation under pressure,” a senior member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) told the Jamaica Observer on Monday.
“What we are seeing are signs of the illegal scheme in parishes that once showed no trace of the trade,” the senior policeman said.
The development has since been confirmed by the Police High Command.
“We have seen signs of this development and as a result several systems have been placed to address this sort of situation,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.
“What we are seeing is really a devolution of scammers across many parishes; formerly St James was the centre [of the operations]. Westmoreland is now competing with St James and Hanover to a lesser extent,” said the deputy commissioner.
The senior officer said investigators have found that more than 50 per cent of the murders in Area 1 (western (parishes) have been linked directly to lottery scam.
He said in some areas criminals involved in the racket recruit collectors from other parishes to collect the money scammed from mainly United States residents who have been told they won money in a sweepstakes and asked to send money to Jamaica before ‘winnings’ can be collected. A number of elderly people have fallen victims to the scam.
A number of the scammers are teenagers redeployed 150 additional police personnel, including specialist from Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch, to the areas affected in the western section of the island to apprehend criminals wanted for serious crimes as well as clampdown on players involved in the lottery scam trade.