by Bryan Miller
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- Lotto scammers in Jamaica may soon be extradited to face charges overseas.
National Security Minister Peter Bunting said it is his understanding that a number of cases are being worked on by foreign law enforcement agencies. Extradition falls under the Ministry of Justice.
“I would not be surprised if in due course, we see extradition requests coming,” he told journalists last week, during a tour of crime hotspots in the parish of St James.
He said the government is committed to “breaking the back” of the lotto scam, which he argued is at the heart of the crime situation in the parish. He said that St James has more than twice the murders of any other parish.
“It is much worse than Kingston and St Andrew, or St Catherine, and the fuel for a lot of these crimes comes from the lotto scam operation, either directly or indirectly,” he pointed out.
He said that work is being advanced on legislation that will enable law enforcement to bring a broader range of charges against scammers.
“We are doing some amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) and ultimately, I think we may need to put in a specific piece of legislation to deal with the various types of ‘advance fee fraud’ including lotto scamming,” he stated.
“There are amendments that will require a bill to be taken to Parliament, and we hope to do that within a couple months, but there are entirely new pieces of legislation which are required, which will probably take until sometime in 2013 before we will be able to bring those to Parliament,” he said.
He stated that additional police and military personnel have been deployed to the parish, which has brought a “substantial reduction” in the rate of murders.
“It is still early, but I anticipate that if we can maintain that deployment over a sustained period, we will be able to normalize the violent crime situation in St James for the time being, but long-term, if we are to sustain any successes we have, we have to break the back of the lotto scamming operations, because that continues to fuel criminality right across the parish,” he stated.