Sunday 9 December, 2018

VIDEO: Fear grips Clarendon town amid alleged criminal military moves

Screenshot of CCTV footage showing men with assault rifles approaching a premises in Clarendon.

Screenshot of CCTV footage showing men with assault rifles approaching a premises in Clarendon.

The Police High Command has launched a high-level probe into claims that heavily-armed men travelling around in full military gear have been committing a number of break-ins and other robberies in a North Clarendon town and its environs.

The claims made by a number of persons living in and around a town in the area have triggered a national probe in view of the alarming nature of the allegations that have been backed up by some amount of concrete evidence, Loop News has learnt.

Angry, frustrated and afraid, the residents of the town said they did their own investigation into the ‘mystery criminals’, and their findings have left them even more concerned and afraid.

The residents, in exclusive interviews with Loop News, claimed that a group of heavily-armed men dressed in what appeared to be Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) military gear, has been breaking into homes and other properties in the town.

They further claimed that the group members have made off with thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and other items.

Members of the Police High Command say they are investigating the claims, but have cautioned the residents not to jump to any conclusions amid the probe.

The senior members of the police force said citizens should be mindful of the tactics being used by criminal networks to create confusion and mistrust between law-abiding citizens and the security forces.

But the outline from the police has done little to reduce concern among the affected citizens because of their reported on-the-spot experiences, some of which have been captured on video.

“Right now people in the area have been left confused, angry and very afraid about this development. We do not know what to make of what we are seeing and hearing,” said a man from the community. He spoke with Loop News amid a request that the name of the community and the names of the citizens who spoke to the news centre be withheld out of fear of possible reprisal.

“In one of the cases, the men broke into a store in our community and removed thousands of dollars’ worth of gadgets,” said a female resident, who also asked not to be named.

Following the claims, a Loop News team carried out a probe and managed to get footage from a number of CCTV cameras that sources from the community said were installed after the first unusual robbery reported took place in the community. The citizens said the move was in an attempt to capture and expose the criminal activities of members of the strange militia group.

Careful examination of the CCTV footage, some of which ran close to 45 minutes, did not show men forcefully breaking into properties, but showed men travelling around in what appeared to be full JDF uniforms with the accompanying gears, and armed with high-powered rifles, escorting other men in plain clothing around the community.

In one of the videos, three men in the militia group displaying highly-trained skills in the handling of heavy weaponry are seen escorting two other men in plain clothing at night-time.

The men in plain clothing also had guns, but their faces were noticeably covered with what appeared to be T-shirts, and they were observed opening the entrance to a premises and entering the property.

“The question that we need answers to is this: (pause) we want someone in the Police High Command to tell us what sort of operation would warrant men travelling around in what appears to be a militia group, to be escorting men in plain clothing, who also have guns, but with their faces covered with makeshift masks?” asked a woman who spoke to Loop News.

In posing the question, the woman paused to maintain her composure from what she later said was the situation that has left her horrified.

In response, the police have been tight-lipped about the stage of their ongoing investigations into the residents’ claim.

“We are aware of the capabilities of criminal elements to try and disseminate information that creates panic, and to also put in place systems that can create confusion, or try to discredit systems that were put in place to clamp down on their activities,” a senior lawman said.

And as the authorities carry out their probe, the residents said they are anxiously awaiting the outcome.

“We desperately want to get to the bottom of this matter,” said one of the concerned residents.

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