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(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – MEMBERS of the notorious Klansman Gang in Spanish Town, St Catherine, are raking in $1.8 million weekly from extorting mainly business owners and transport operators, the police have said.
The disclosure was made yesterday at a press conference called by the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch (C-TOC) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
Head of C-TOC, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Fitz Bailey told members of the media at C-TOC’s Orange Street offices that the men, based on calculations, are collecting $85 million annually.
“This is from loader fees, bus drivers, taxi drivers, other businesses, and protection, among other things. They are required to pay extortion fees,” ACP Bailey said when asked to give a breakdown of the weekly figure.
He did not disclose the geographic location of the criminals’ operation, but said that it is widespread and that it involves many people.
“Our assessment is that it amounts to $1.8 [million] per week and over $85 million annually. We have had complaints and, based on our own investigation and intelligence, we have come to this [figure], although you might not be able to turn it into evidence,” he mentioned.
Bailey pointed out that C-TOC is collaborating with the Financial Investigations Division to examine the finances of the gangs, and noted that every aspect of the law is being taken into consideration to take the profit out of crime.
He said that the difficulty the police face in doing this, is the unresponsiveness of those being affected.
“The extortion ring is wide, but there is a code of silence because, unless people are willing to say that I pay money to extortionists’, nothing will be done. People tend to complain about the danger that is involved because one of the arguments is that the police cannot be everywhere, so who protects them when the criminals make an advancement,” he said.
Bailey, at the same time, urged transport operators and residents to “speak up”, given the direct link between economic development and crime.
“The citizens will have to play their part. There are many avenues where citizens can be anonymous and don’t have to reveal their identities. As citizens, we have a civic duty for the sake of our country. We have a responsibility. I think when that consciousness is awakened and we understand that this is not about me, that it is about my nation, then I think that we will start to speak out,” the ACP said.
“It might be somebody else today, but tomorrow it might be you.”