60 extortion letters seized by police
THE police yesterday revealed that they have seized 45 copies of the threatening extortion letters delivered to business operators in Manchester and an additional 15 from the home of the 60-year-old woman arrested in connection with the plot and who the cops believe is the mastermind.
The woman, who the police said is a Jamaican who had worked in the United Kingdom for a number of years, was held at her home in Freetown, Clarendon on Sunday along with a man whom the police had named as a person of interest in the case Saturday night.
Their arrest followed that of two men in Mandeville last Friday.
The letters, which contained threats to recipients, their families and employees if money was not paid over, bears a stamp with the words “Order of the SM”.
Yesterday, the police said they believe the initials represented an alias name being used by the 60-year-old female suspect.
The letters demanded payment of $25,000 weekly or $100,000 monthly to operate large businesses, while medium businesses were ordered to pay $20,000 weekly or $80,000 monthly.
“If you choose to close your business establishment and move elsewhere you may do so at your own free will, however, this system will be placed in all three counties: Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey, therefore if your business or identity comes across the radar in any of the other 13 parishes or in another area within this parish you now operate, it will be treated as a violation and you will be killed,” stated the letters.
They also instructed recipients not to complain about business being slow.
“If business is slow, simply close it down and get out because if you continue to exist without paying your dues you will be at harmful risk,” the letters further stated.
Yesterday, Deputy Superintendent Hempford Wade, who heads criminal investigations in Manchester, told the
Jamaica Observer that the business community is “cooperating” with the police as they continue their investigation.
“Some who received threatening letters have come forward and interviews with those people are being carried out,” he said.
Wade said the four people in custody have not yet been formally charged and they are in the process of obtaining legal representation. “When that happens, they will be formally interviewed by the police,” he said.