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Breakthrough in arms probe

Key suspect in custody; spouse, her children among 5 facing scamming charges

Published:Sunday | February 25, 2024 | 12:07 AMLivern Barrett - Senior Staff Reporter
In the last six years, the police have intercepted nearly 400 guns and more than 5,000 bullets at the country’s ports of entry, mainly in Kingston and St James.
In the last six years, the police have intercepted nearly 400 guns and more than 5,000 bullets at the country’s ports of entry, mainly in Kingston and St James.

The main suspect being sought by the police in connection with a shipment of illegal guns that was intercepted at a warehouse in Montego Bay, St James, a few weeks ago is now in custody, law enforcement officials confirmed yesterday.

He reportedly surrendered to the police in St James on Wednesday accompanied by his attorney.

The Sunday Gleaner has opted not to publish his name because he has not been charged with any crime.

His spouse and two of her children are among five people who were taken into custody by members of the Firearms Trafficking Task Force during a subsequent operation at their home in St Mary on Wednesday, their attorney confirmed.

Racquel Gayle, 41; her daughter, Kayla DaCosta, 18; and her son, Jevan McGregor; as well as Pajmar Dixon, 20; and Mikail McKoy, 23, have since been charged with lottery scam-related offences, the police confirmed.

Donnovan Collins, the attorney representing Gayle and her children, told The Sunday Gleaner yesterday that his clients have not been questioned by police investigators about any firearm-related offences.

All three have since been granted bail, he said.

“I would urge the public to view news they hear on social media with a grain of salt as they can be very misleading and, to some extent, false,” Collins said.

However, law enforcement sources have indicated to The Sunday Gleaner that the lottery scam charges are to allow the police more time to conduct their arms trafficking investigation.

Police officials have declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

MAJOR SHIPMENTS INTERCEPTED

A total of 14 handguns and 15 magazines were found hidden in a barrel among household items during an operation conducted by the police and the Jamaica Customs Agency at the Freeport Warehouse in Montego Bay on February 9.

The police said in a statement that through the use of advanced non-intrusive technology, anomalies were detected in a shipment from Miami, Florida in the United States, during routine scanning procedures.

According to the police, the suspicious consignment – a blue plastic barrel addressed to a recipient in Bogue Village, Montego Bay – prompted a thorough examination by the Contraband Enforcement Team.

“This operation is a significant blow to the transnational movement of illegal weapons from North America into the Caribbean, demonstrating the effectiveness of the combined efforts by law enforcement agencies to combat organised crime and protect our nation’s borders,” the police said.

A week later, a shipment of 64 mainly handguns, 965 bullets and 107 magazines were intercepted at the wharf in Kingston.

They were also shipped from Miami and were destined for a violent criminal gang based in the Jamaican capital of Kingston, law enforcement sources disclosed.

Two men are in custody after they were collared while attempting to take possession of the illegal arms shipment, sources revealed.

Florida, where the city of Miami is located, is one of the top five American states from which guns are illegally shipped to Jamaica. The others are Georgia, North Dakota, Indiana and Texas.

In the last six years, the police have intercepted nearly 400 guns and more than 5,000 bullets at the country’s ports of entry, mainly in Kingston and St James.

Last year, Jamaica joined with Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago to support a lawsuit filed by Mexico against gun manufacturers in the United States.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com