Sat | May 28, 2022

Commish bets on cops to snare fugitives

Published:Monday | January 17, 2022 | 12:10 AMKimone Francis/Senior Staff Reporter
Anderson: “One or two will come in, but if they do get in, our intelligence largely will point us in the direction of where they are ... .”
Anderson: “One or two will come in, but if they do get in, our intelligence largely will point us in the direction of where they are ... .”

Denying that Jamaica’s porous borders have created a safe haven for international criminals and suspects, Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson said on Sunday that an intelligence-driven operation led to the apprehension of former Haitian Senator John Joel Joseph.

The politician, who was listed as a key suspect in the July 7 slaying of former Haitian President Jovenel Moise, was picked up in St Elizabeth on Friday.

His wife and two children have also been detained in relation to immigration breaches.

“The fact that our intelligence led us to apprehending them suggests that it’s not really a safe place for people to flee to because we’ll find them if they come here,” Anderson told journalists during a press conference held at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Andrew.

Joseph’s apprehension comes almost two weeks after the deportation of former Colombian soldier Mario Antonio Palacios Palacios, another key suspect in Moise’s assassination who was arrested in central Jamaica last October.

Anderson insisted that Jamaica is not “unique” to illegal entry of foreigners, noting that people will be able to “slip in if they have enough money”.

Referencing drugs-for-guns smuggling between Haiti and Jamaica that features prominently in the southern parishes of the island, Anderson said there are dealers who have family on both sides because of the extent of the illicit trade.

Joseph is said to have arrived on the island by boat in December and was holed up at a dwelling in Warminster in the parish.

“We also have other points, other directions and vectors where persons enter Jamaican waters and space,” said the commissioner, who added that the Jamaica Defence Force has been working to prevent the frequency with which people enter the country illegally by boat.

“One or two will come in, but if they do get in, our intelligence largely will point us in the direction of where they are, so we’ll be able to apprehend them.”

Jamaica has more than 140 informal ports of entry.

United States agents based at its Kingston Embassy are believed to have played a major role in the detention of Joseph. The embassy has declined comment.

When asked, earlier this month, about America’s role in Palacios’ detention, spokesperson at the US Embassy in Kingston, Bobby Adelson, told The Gleaner that Washington remained a strong partner with Jamaica, especially on issues of security.

“We will continue to work with Jamaican authorities to combat transnational organised crime, curb illicit trafficking, and improve citizen security,” Adelson said then.

Palacios’ deportation to Colombia was intercepted by US authorities, who escorted him from Panama to Florida, where he was charged with conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside of the US and with providing material support, resulting in death, among other things.

Last Friday, the police commissioner told The Gleaner that there are “significant intelligence assets” assisting the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

“We have intelligence assets that aren’t even known in the force or to the force. Our intelligence network is widespread,” he said.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, too, touted the current force as “far more intelligence-based than anytime ever”.

“What you’re seeing now is a direction of resources into our security apparatus that gives us domain control on land and at sea to the point where if you believe you’re going to enter Jamaica illegally and stay here, you have another thing coming,” he said at Sunday’s press conference.

“We have demonstrated the ability to now interdict boats with guns coming in from other jurisdictions and we have demonstrated the capability to interdict fugitives from other jurisdictions,” the prime minister said.

Meanwhile, Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn told The Gleaner that it is early days on judicial matters concerning Joseph.

She said that her office has not yet received any information from the Government or its Haitian counterpart.

“We will see what the future holds,” she said.

Moïse was murdered at his private residence overlooking Port-au-Prince. He was reportedly tortured and shot 12 times. His wife was wounded.

kimone.francis@gleanerjm.com