The Gleaner, North America Jan 05, 2022 - Feb 04, 2023

Billion-dollar cocaine bust APPROXIMATELY 2,000 pounds of cocaine, with an estimated street value of $1.1 billion, was seized by Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) personnel last Monday after they intercepted a vessel at sea. According to the JDF, three Jamaicans who were aboard the go-fast boat were detained. It reported that the shipment of cocaine came from South America, with the JDF stating that the interception was made by its Air and Cyber Command through the combined efforts of the JDF Air Wing and the JDF Coast Guard. The JDF says the investigative process is ongoing as the relevant and appropriate authorities have been contacted. States of Public Emergency declared in eight parishes STATES OF Public Emergency (SOEs) are now in effect in eight parishes islandwide. These have been declared in St. Ann, Clarendon, St. Catherine, Kingston, St. Andrew, St. James, Westmoreland, and Hanover and are intended to curtail increased criminal activities and bolster public safety. Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, made the announcement during a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) onWednesday (December 28). He said the Government, after carefully considering recommendations from the security chiefs, decided to notify the Governor-General that it was necessary and appropriate to declare the SOEs. The Prime Minister previously declared SOEs in several parishes and police divisions on December 6. 5.9% growth recorded in September quarter, says STATIN THE STATISTICAL Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) has reported that the economy is almost back to its pre-COVID level. It said that economic growth of 5.9 per cent was seen in the September quarter, when compared with the same quarter in the previous year. This means economic output, in real terms, has now surpassed the March 2020 level and is 99.9 per cent of the pre-COVID level of December 2019. During the quarter from July to September, the services industries grew by 6 per cent, while goods-producing industries grew by 5.6 per cent. In October, STATIN indicated that the country was on track to return to preCOVID-19 levels of economic output by 2023. NHT warns of possible scams as it prepares to refund 2015 contributions THE NATIONAL Housing Trust (NHT) is urging the public to be on the alert for scams as it prepares to begin accepting applications for a refund of contributions made in 2015. It says it has observed an increase in fictitious communication asking individuals to provide payment or bank account information to access some NHT services, in particular contributions refund. Eligible NHT contributors are being reminded that applications for 2015 contributions refund are being accepted as of January 2023 and that these must be made online. Customers may apply for their refund via the NHT’s website,, or via the mobile app, NHT Online. In addition, the NHT says it will be extending the cash refund granted to eligible public-sector workers for the upcoming year. Minister willing to contemplate 40-yr minimum sentence request for murder JUSTICE MINISTER Delroy Chuck says he would have no issue with taking into consideration a call from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn for 30 to 40 year’ imprisonment as the starting point for a life sentence for all murder convictions before eligibility for parole. “There is no doubt that we need to put a mandatory minimum [term of imprisonment]. Bear in mind, the death penalty is still the penalty for murder, so in especially egregious cases, nothing is wrong with making 40 years the mandatoryminimum, so I have no problem with that,” Chuck said in an interview last Thursday. THE MONTHLY GLEANER | JANUARY 5 - FEBRUARY 4, 2023 | | NEWS MISSED 7 [ NEWSYOU MAY HAVE MISSED ] Chuck Members of the Jamaica Defence Force unload cocaine from this vessel, which was intercepted close to St Thomas on Monday. CONTRIBUTED