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How corporals got busted in St Elizabeth operation

Published:Friday | October 16, 2020 | 12:15 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Lt Col Dameon Creary addressing a JDF press briefing yesterday.
Lt Col Dameon Creary addressing a JDF press briefing yesterday.

Unaware to two Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) corporals as they drove off their Up Park Camp base in Kingston on Tuesday, they were under intense surveillance by army sleuths, who had been aroused to their ­shenanigans and had partnered with the Narcotics Police to ­intercept them in a drug bust.

Yesterday, acting colonel general staff at the JDF, Lt Col Dameon Creary, said the soldiers were tracked and subsequently apprehended at Gutters near the St Elizabeth border with Manchester after reports suggested that an “unidentified soldier was involved in the movement of contraband”.

Creary further said that the JDF first became suspicious prior to the bust based on an anomaly detected with one of the army service vehicles, which was noticed to be off its designated route.

“Following the incident, the JDF conducted an audit and formally commenced an internal investigation,” he said.

Creary said the process took some amount of time to ensure that due diligence was done and that the JDF would have been in a position to not only detect future suspicious activities of the soldiers in this case, but to disrupt them.

“The investigations revealed that the suspected soldier was engaged in renewed actions and raised suspicion that he intended to use a JDF service vehicle in the transport of contraband,” he said.

The unsuspecting soldiers never knew that the army had by now trained the newly installed surveillance system at Cannonball Gate on them, and they were observed leaving Camp at 5:08 p.m. on Tuesday.

By then, the police were notified, and the men were surveilled all the way to St Elizabeth, where they picked up the contraband.

It is further understood that around 9 p.m., the Narcotics Police signalled the JDF minibus with the corporals on board to stop. However, they disobeyed, and, instead, opened fire at the police, who gave chase.

Police sources say two firearms were taken from the soldiers and the ganja found in numerous parcels stacked inside the JDF service vehicle.

The soldiers, who remain in police custody, are now facing criminal charges.

Creary said that no JDF-issued weapons were used by the men in the confrontation with the police.

In addition, four more army personnel are being questioned by army investigators as a vigorous internal probe continued to determine if other personnel may have been complicit in illegal activity or negligent in the execution of their duties.