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JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending November 11th, 2005

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Operation Kingfish has revealed that several area leaders and business community members are under investigation as police try to establish links to the $100 million empire of dead Clansman gang leader Donovan “Bulbie” Bennett. Head of Operation Kingfish Glenmore Hinds would not say whether any of those under investigation are politicians. The Clansman gang is associated with the governing People’s National Party. Most of Bennett’s assets are registered in the names of relatives and associates according to police. Hinds also confirmed that Bennett is indeed dead, despite rumors to the contrary.

On Friday night gunmen attempted to rob the Maragh Service Station in Hayes, Clarendon and killed the 61-year old owner, Frederick Maragh, during the attempt. One of Maragh’s sons was also shot during the attempted robbery. Evidently gunmen hid under the car ramp in the garage, then attempted to enter the office as employees were changing shifts. Shots were fired, and Maragh came out into the open from his office, when he was shot in the abdomen. According to police, the gas pump attendants were robbed at least twice earlier this year. Maragh is the second service station owner to be killed in the past six months.

Dr. Peter Phillips, Minister of National Security, is proposing to the Cabinet a marked increase in the number of members of the police force. He wants the Jamaican Constabulary Force of 8,500 to be increased to 10,000 members over the next 18 months, and proposes to move 500 officers from desk duty to the front lines. The proposal came during Phillips’ announcement on legislative, staffing and operational measures to tackle criminal elements in the country. The speech is in part in response to the 1,400 murders this year, including a 50 percent increase in gang and drug-related murders. All shootings and murders would be investigated by a new task force of experienced homicide officers, to be merged under Operation Kingfish.

Portia Simpson Miller launched her campaign for president of the People’s National Party yesterday at the National Indoor Sports Centre to the strains of music from the Fabulous Five band. Dressed in yellow, her campaign color, Simpson Miller made her appearance to wild applause and drifting confetti. While many professed not to know her campaign agenda or what difference she would make, they agreed that a woman’s presence would be welcome. Simpson Miller is a local government minister currently. Spectators agree that Simpson Miller cares about the people as opposed to just herself, something that would be different about a man’s approach to the office.

Jamaica Labour Party leader Bruce Golding continues to state his opposition to the concentration of power in the hands of Jamaican Prime Ministers. In Manhattan last week, Godling spoke to a group of Jamaican Americans and stated his position, as well as objections to the Jamaican government having the power to run up huge national debts. Golding believes it is dangerous for any government to expand the national debt without any constraints. He believes it is wrong to have a system that allows government to incur a deficit in any year. From Golding’s perspective, it is this situation which has restricted growth in Jamaica and left the country unable to function as it should with the resources needed. He told the group that the People’s National Party and the JLP have agreed to a new charter of fundamental rights for citizens, viewed as a positive step forward for the country.

The Operation Kingfish anti-crime squad seized 20 guns and ammunition valued in excess of $3 million at a raid at the Kingston Wharves on Tuesday night. The gun haul included 12 rifles, three shotguns and five handguns according to head of Kingfish Glenmore Hinds. The seizure is part of an ongoing investigation of the Clansman gang in Spanish Town, which was headed by Donovan ‘Bulbie’ Bennett until his death on October 30 as a result of a shootout with police. After Bennett’s death, demonstrations erupted in sections of Spanish Town, with insurgents torching a police station, placing roadblocks and forcing residents to protest against the police. The gang is reputedly linked to the People’s National Party and runs extortion rackets in the Old Capital. The late criminal was Jamaica’s most wanted man for more than 10 years. The guns seized were from the U.S. and were found in secret compartments of two crates containing household fixtures.

Long lines of motorists waited to buy fuel at gas stations islandwide yesterday before a two-day strike being threatened by the Jamaica Gasoline Retailers Association took effect. The JGRA called for a lockdown of all stations today and tomorrow as protests intensified against the pricing strategy being used by Esso Standard Oil Company. Huge traffic piles resulted in the Corporate Area, Falmouth, Trelawny and Montego Bay as motorists tried to beat the strike. Police were called into some areas to guard and restore order at gas stations affected by the pile ups. Emergency meetings were being held in a bid to reach a settlement to avert the lockdown. The decision for a strike came on the heels of a protest by ESSO retailers who suspended fuel sales to communicate their dissatisfaction with ESSO’s pricing strategy which they claim has been driving them out of business.

The government will be paying out large sums to the police force members next month, totaling approximately $400 million when all is said and done. Rank and file members will each receive a $50,000 lump sum payment first, with $40,000 in one payment and another $10,000 in separate payment. In addition, members will receive a housing allowance totaling more than $60 million, agreed upon by the Ministry of National Security and the National Housing Trust. The government will provide $20 million of the amount in the form of a grant, while NHT will put up the other $40 million. The maximum amount per individual is $250,000, which will be loaned at six percent over a three year period. There will be no raise in salaries during the contract period, which runs through March 31, 2006. Other increases that were agreed to included a death benefit increase, funeral grant increases, scholarships for children of officers and an education grant for members.


Tivoli Gardens came away with a narrow 6-5 sudden death victory in the ISSA/Pepsi/JN Walker Cup final at National Stadium yesterday. The fight-to-the-finish game ended with Tivoli’s Richard Stern firing in a goal past the substitute goalkeeper for Calabar High. Tivoli held possession for long periods of time but did not capitalize on any of their early opportunities. Calabar was ahead in the early stages of the game. The second half saw Tivoli better their efforts, but it took Jermaine Allen, captain, to get them even with their opponents. Fired up after the goal, the team then took possession for the better of the second half and a victory in the end.

Arnett Gardens became the first winners of the 2006 Wray and Nephew National Premier League after beating Harbour View 2-1 in the End of Round Final at the Harbour View Mini-Stadium last night. Kevin ‘Pele” Wilson tied the game in the 47th minute of play and Gregg Taylor took them ahead in the 58th minute with a strike that led to a joyous win. Both teams lost players to the issuing of four red cards during the game. In a skirmish that took place in front of Arnett’s goal, Cornell Chin-Sue and Kevin ‘Pele’ Wilson from Arnett, and Rafeik Thomas and Leon Strickland from Harbour View were all sent packing for striking other players. The fight put a damper on the game but couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the winning team.

Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls lost another game against the Australian team, 31-47. The game was the final of three in a test series against the number-two ranked Aussies, making it a clean sweep for the team from down under at the National Indoor Sports Centre. The young Jamaica squad had trouble keeping pace with the more experienced and highly ranked Australian team, and in the end just couldn’t hold their own. The Jamaican coach saw it as a learning experience for her team and a good opportunity to gain more experience.

Substitute Ray Graham scored a late and controversial goal for Rivoli, ending the match against Boys’ Town in a 1-1 draw in their Wray and Nephew National Premier League game yesterday. Boys’ Town had a 60th minute lead but missed some chances to score more points. Finally in the 87th minute brought one home. Team members felt an offside call should have been made but the officials held their ground, irritating both sides. The match left Boys’ Town with 12 points with Rivoli holding 11 points.

The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.

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