Jamaica is a transit point for cocaine trafficked from South America and has one of the world’s highest murder rates. A type of transnational organized crime called lottery scamming, which originates in Jamaica, is estimated to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from U.S. citizens per year. Organized crime influences legitimate political, economic, and social institutions. There is little public trust in the Jamaican Constabulary Force (JCF) due to high numbers of civilian deaths resulting from police actions and from endemic police corruption.
As part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), INL efforts in Jamaica focus on law enforcement professionalization, disrupting criminal organizations involved in illicit drug and firearms trafficking, and building the capacity of the justice sector. INL helps the JCF’s improve internal vetting procedures to reduce corruption. INL programs seek to diminish the underlying conditions that organized criminal organizations exploit to perpetrate crimes. INL programs also focus on improving Jamaica’s ability to investigate and prosecute transnational gangs for illegal activities (such as extortion, drug and arms trafficking, money laundering, and large-scale financial fraud of U.S. citizens, including lottery scams) and to seize and forfeit the criminally-acquired assets that result. INL provides training and related assistance for the Financial Investigations Division (FID) of the Ministry of Finance, the JCF’s Lottery Scam Task Force, and the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), which provides oversight of the JCF.
INL assistance to financial crime investigators and specialized law enforcement units has led to increased arrests of lottery scam suspects. INL helps coordinate efforts between U.S. and Jamaican law enforcement officials which has led to a significant increase in extraditions of lottery scammers who have targeted and robbed U.S. citizens. With INL support, new vetting procedures for police recruits have led to hundreds of corrupt officers let go for failed background checks, including some with ties to organized crime. INL has helped Jamaica’s courts improve case processing efficiency, including in their handling of cases involving transnational gangs and cases involving crimes against U.S. citizens. A nexus exists between corruption and weak government institutions, and INL is supporting the Government of Jamaica’s efforts to strengthen weak institutions and improve legitimacy among Jamaican citizens.