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Police robbers?

• JCF widens probe of rogue cops amid claims they are part of robbery crew • Chinese business operators main targets of corrupt lawmen

Published:Sunday | June 18, 2023 | 1:25 AMLivern Barrett - Senior Staff Reporter
Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey.
Dalton Yap, president of the Chinese Benevolent Association.
Dalton Yap, president of the Chinese Benevolent Association.
According to one law enforcement source, the band of rogue cops are the prime suspects in a string of robberies mainly across the Corporate Area that targeted Chinese business operators.
According to one law enforcement source, the band of rogue cops are the prime suspects in a string of robberies mainly across the Corporate Area that targeted Chinese business operators.
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The police have broadened their investigation of two policemen implicated in a multimillion-dollar home invasion robbery amid claims that they are part of a band of rogue cops who are behind a string of high-stakes heists. Already, police...

The police have broadened their investigation of two policemen implicated in a multimillion-dollar home invasion robbery amid claims that they are part of a band of rogue cops who are behind a string of high-stakes heists.

Already, police commanders in several divisions are poring over months of robbery reports with similar modus operandi to the approximately $14-million heist at the St Andrew home of a Chinese businessman on June 6.

In the caught-on-video incident, the two constables who are assigned to the St Andrew South Police Division reportedly gained entry to the house by claiming that they were there to investigate a case of uncustomed goods.

They were pointed out during an identification parade last week and will be interviewed in the presence of their attorneys, police officials confirmed.

Men claiming to be cops used a similar ruse to gain entry to the Hopefield Avenue, St Andrew, home of another Chinese businessman where they stole approximately $20 million on March 3.

This incident was also recorded by a home surveillance camera.

Dalton Yap, president of the Chinese Benevolent Association (CBA) Jamaica chapter, said he is aware of “two or three” other cases since last December that have not been reported to the police.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey confirmed that detectives are conducting “a very wide investigation”, but declined to comment on allegations that the constables were part of a band of robbers.

“We have broadened our investigation. We are looking at reports of a similar nature to see if there are any relationships to previous cases. That’s all I will say,” Bailey, head of the police Criminal Investigation Branch, told The Sunday Gleaner.

ROGUE COPS

But according to one law enforcement source, the band of rogue cops are the prime suspects in a string of robberies mainly across the Corporate Area that targeted Chinese business operators.

“They have gone to homes and business places, especially the wholesales in downtown Kingston,” said the source who did not want to be named because they are not authorised to speak publicly about the probe.

The two constables implicated in the June 6 robbery each have over ten years of service.

They were apprehended at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston the following day as they were about to board a flight destined for the United States, the police have confirmed.

Some of the stolen cash was found in their possession, the source claimed.

“One of them [cops], you could see his face clear, clear,” said the source, referring to the video footage of the incident.

Yap, who is a justice of the peace, previously told this newspaper that allegations of police involvement in attacks on Chinese business operators are “very scary”.

“Notwithstanding that we have to go deal with the common criminals out there, when you have the police who are now in cahoots with the criminals, that’s a horse of an entirely different colour,” he said.

The CBA head, who also serves as a translator because he is fluent in Chinese and English, has seen first-hand the pain caused by the spate of attacks – some of them deadly – on his countrymen who come to Jamaica in search of a better life.

He recounted the case of a female business operator in Black River, St Elizabeth, who was robbed and stabbed by someone she previously employed.

“When you go there you see this lady almost disfigured and in a state of absolute despair and shock. And there I was having to sit with her and the police and go over exactly what took place,” he shared with The Sunday Gleaner.

“I’ve been through this many times and it’s very disheartening,” said Yap of the frequent attacks.

RELUCTANT TO FILE REPORTS

Ajay Frazer, 22, was given the mandatory life sentence last month and ordered to serve 15 years in prison before he is eligible for parole after he pleaded guilty for his role in the robbery and shooting death of supermarket operator Jin Xian Ye in Porus, Manchester, last December.

A customer, Alphonso Cohen, was killed outside the supermarket as one of the hoodlums fired wildly during their escape.

Four other men – Chavaugn Wright, Treyvon Williams, Rickeem Mohammed and Curtis Gardener – are awaiting trial for their alleged involvement in the killings.

In December 2021, business operators 53-year-old Shiyun Shu and 48-year-old Haikong Wan were gunned down during a robbery at their Jojo supermarket in Bellevue, St Elizabeth.

Three gunmen were reportedly caught on a closed-circuit television system posing as customers in the supermarket before the killing. Brothers Nigel Walters, alias ‘Troy’, and Nicholas Walters were charged for the murder of the Chinese couple. The other suspect, Tommy Thompson, was killed during a reported shootout with the police last year.

These victims were more than two dozen Chinese business operators who were killed or maimed by robbers in the last two years, according to police reports.

Yap said Chinese business operators are reluctant to report robberies to the police either because of apathy or they don’t believe the outcome will be “positive”.

“Time and time again, among themselves, they discuss this matter that, look, why bother to report it. Nobody got hurt, they can replace the money and next time they’ll be more careful or don’t keep the cash at their homes,” Yap said.

Chinese business operators are prime targets for criminals because they often opt to bypass the Jamaican banking system, walking around with large sums of cash, police investigators have long theorised.

Frazer was among a group of men who travelled to Porus in separate vehicles with plans to rob an armoured money courier vehicle, prosecutors in his murder trial told journalists who were barred from his sentencing hearing.

The men discarded that plan after they encountered multiple armoured vehicles and shifted their focus to Ye’s supermarket.

But Yap dismissed assertions that Chinese business operators are reluctant to use the Jamaican banking system, noting that in most cases the robberies “invariably” occur on or near the weekend.

“During the week they will lodge the money, but on a Friday evening what are they gonna do? And then Saturday is their busy day and some even open on a Sunday,” he said.

Still, Yap said the attacks on his countrymen have not dissuaded them from migrating to Jamaica.

“You have to take your cap off to these people who are just so resilient. They have heard stories from their colleagues, friends and families but yet they are still coming,” he said.

“They’ve found that Jamaica is such a land of opportunity.”

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com