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Gang member accuses leader of trying to frame him

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Gang member accuses leader of trying to frame him

BY TANESHA MUNDLE
Observer staff reporter
mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

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An alleged member of the Uchence Wilson Gang, who, the trial heard, had turned in a Beretta shotgun to the police, reportedly told the cops that the accused gang leader had tried to frame him for the said firearm.

The trial previously heard that Wilson, who is said to be the leader of the gang, had taken police personnel to visit alleged gang member Odeen “Brinks” Smith in Clarendon in November 2017.

Wilson, who was in police custody at the time and was told by the cops to do something for himself by helping them to recover firearms, was recorded on a cellular phone saying that he could take the police to a taximan in Clarendon who he knew always had his gun in the car.

However, when the team went to Clarendon and Smith was instructed by Wilson to go and “rise” the “ting dem” he denied knowing the whereabouts of the weapons.

Smith, who was also being recorded, later told the police that the guns had gone missing after he was arrested. He later changed that story, telling them that another alleged gang member — Stephenson “Slim” Bennett — had instructed him to sell the firearms.

But yesterday during the trial, one of the lead investigators who was in the police team that had travelled to Clarendon, testified that Smith had called him later that day after they left Clarendon and told him that he had a gun to hand over to the police.

The police witness said when they later went for Smith he told them that he could not produce the gun because it was Wilson who had given it to him.

“Mi know that from mi hand over the gun that mi either a go dead or go a prison, mi dream it. Mi a tell yuh dis, dis yah whole thing a set-up,” the witness recalled being told by Smith. “The man a set up police fi kill me, di same man weh carry we in fi the gun, a him same one carry it come gi mi, so mi couldn’t tell unnu seh it neva deh deh.”

A rusty shotgun that was reportedly left at a location in Clarendon in a long box and retrieved by the police was shown in court yesterday.

However, before the gun was retrieved, the police witness told the court that Wilson, while on his way to Clarendon, denied having any guns and told them that it was Bennett who had the guns.

“A Slim ting dem, a mussi two gun mi hear seh him have up yah,” he was reportedly heard saying on the recording.

“A Slim have di gun dem enuh, mi nuh have no gun enuh,” he said further.

“Yuh see if mi did have gun and mi inna dis yah situation, weh unnuh think mi woulda do?” Wilson was reportedly heard asking.

He was also heard on the same recording saying: “Mi willing fi change mi life. A Christian mi a go tun when mi go road; a nuh gimmicks mi a talk.”

Meanwhile, the trial also heard that one of the alleged gang members, Lanworth “Zeeks” Geohagen, had tried to escape from the police while he was at the Bog Walk Police Station on December 2.

The police witness told the court that while the cops were about to search Geohagen’s car, he saw Geohagen running at “bird speed’ across the road before jumping into a gully and into a river. He was chased and returned to the police station.

Wilson and 21 alleged gang members, including four women, Police Corporal Lloyd Knight, as well as two former employees of a pawn shop in Kingston, are being tried for various offences under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act, commonly referred to as the anti-gang legislation, and for offences under the Firearms Act.

The trial will continue today before Chief Justice Bryan Sykes.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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JHTA boss upbeat ahead of flights from Peru

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JHTA boss upbeat ahead of flights from Peru

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, September 16, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Omar Robinson is upbeat about the expected growth in tourist arrivals from Latin America.

“Latin America will be the region that provides the greatest opportunities for growth, especially as we prepare for the arrival of LATAM Airlines from Lima, Peru, which will operate in Montego Bay three times weekly. Latam is the largest carrier in South America, with connectivity to other South American countries such as Argentina, Chile, and Brazil — hence a large market for us to take advantage of.

“The LATAM flights will complement the 11 weekly flights into Jamaica on Copa [Airlines] — seven to Montego Bay and four to Kingston. There is also great connectivity from South America through Panama,” Robinson told the Jamaica Observer.

He noted that the 20 major travel industry professionals from Latin America, who were in attendance at the recently concluded 2019 staging of the Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) in Montego Bay, St James, were also optimistic.

“The Latin American delegates were very upbeat and positive about Jamaica. Most of them were here for the first time and expressed how pleased they were with the destination, the hotels, and the service provided,” Robinson declared.

The travel professionals were in Jamaica as part of Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett’s push to drive the development of new markets — as a means of boosting and diversifying tourist arrivals and new non-stop flights between South America and Jamaica.

“As part of our push to promote Jamaica as a premier destination to the Latin American market, more than 20 tourism industry professionals from several Latin American countries participated in the 2019 staging of JAPEX and were given tours of noteworthy tourist attractions,” said Delano Seiveright, senior advisor/strategist in the Ministry of Tourism.

JAPEX 2019, put on by JHTA in association with the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), was held from September 9-11 at Montego Bay Convention Centre.

“The travel industry professionals came from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and other countries, and were able to participate in tours organised by the JTB. The strategic meetings that took place as part of the site visits not only showed what Jamaica has to offer, but also provided an opportunity to build relationships and secure bookings over coming months,” Seiveright pointed out.

Two years after Bartlett led a delegation of tourism officials — including JTB Director Donovan White, Seiveright and JTB Deputy Director Donnie Dawson — to a meeting with senior executives of LATAM Airlines Group at their headquarters in Santiago, Chile, the airline is set to commence three weekly flights between Montego Bay, Jamaica and its major hub in Lima, Peru, starting December 2 this year.

“Already reports indicate that the flights are filling up nicely with passengers coming from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and other nations,” Seiveright indicated.

LATAM Airlines Group is Latin America’s largest airline, operating more than 1,200 flights per day and transporting 67 million passengers per year. It has one of the largest route networks in the world, offering air services to approximately 140 destinations in 25 countries, with significant presence in six domestic markets in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

Another major outcome was that one of Latin America’s largest airlines, Copa Airlines, increased to daily its service between Panama City and Montego Bay, bringing to 11 the overall number of flights weekly between both countries.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Calls made for coffee farmers to get registered

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Calls made for coffee farmers to get registered

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, September 16, 2019

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NORMAN Grant, president of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association (JCEA), is pushing for all coffee farmers to be registered with the association.

According to Grant, who up to recently was the president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), he is concerned that only 4,167 of the known 4,578 coffee farmers in Jamaica are registered with JCEA, which means that there are at least 400 unregistered coffee farmers.

He said his association recently held discussions with the acting director general of Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), Gusland McCook, on allowing unregistered farmers to continue selling coffee to the processors on condition that the processors assist in facilitating the registration of these farmers after the July 31 deadline.

“The JCEA’s aim is to have an ongoing registration programme for both existing and new coffee farmers, and, as we approach continuous registration, the coffee sector should have full compliance by the end of crop year 2019-20,” he stated.

He noted that the benefits of being registered include: Better control over praedial larceny; development of an insurance programme for coffee farmers; development and expansion of the coffee industry through increased production and productivity; and assistance in planning and administrating the farmers’ support programmes, including marketing.

Grant said the JCEA is appealing to the more than 5,000 coffee suppliers in the Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) and non-Blue Mountain areas to ensure that their farms are registered and, although the registration deadline has passed, they are being encouraged to contact JACRA or any of the member companies of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association for assistance.

Grant is currently in Japan leading the JCEA delegation to the Specialty Coffee Association of Japan (SCAJ) Exhibition, which ended on Saturday. The exhibition showcased Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee on the global space, as part of a strategy to reposition the Jamaican brand.

“We will also meet with members of the All Japan Association of Importers of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, to discuss orders and prices for the 2019-2020 crop year and look on a five-year marketing plan for the JBM coffee in the Japanese market,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Production of Jamaica Blue Mountain and Jamaica High Mountain coffee for crop year 2018-19 was 189,531 boxes and 13,974.75 boxes, respectively. This was 10,985.60 boxes more than the 178,500 boxes of Jamaica Blue Mountain cherry berry and 14,013 less than the 28,000 boxes for the prior 2017-18 crop, which resulted from a 50 per cent decrease in Jamaica High Mountain and an overall increase of six per cent for the Jamaica Blue Mountain brands.

However, the total overall production of coffee in Jamaica for the 2018-19 crop was 203,505.75, which was approximately 1.5 per cent less than the 206,533.15 for crop 2017-18. This resulted from a 1.5 per cent decline in production in 2018/19.

The estimated earnings from the total production is US$12.5 million, which is almost 50 per cent less than the US$28 million the industry generated at higher prices that were available three to four years ago, he explained.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Champion farmer beating the drought

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Champion farmer beating the drought

BY SHANAE STEWART
Staff Reporter
stewarts@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, September 16, 2019

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The extensive drought affecting most of the island has left several farmers facing ruin but Michelle Black, who was crowned Champion Farmer at the recent 67th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show has found a way to beat the heat.

The St Ann-based Black, who operates the Golden Dutchie Farm, has managed to minimise her losses by practising smart farming.

According to Black, who has been farming for the past nine years, she adjusted how she operated the farm to reduce the impact of the drought.

She pointed out that before the drought she was able to export yams but this has to come to a halt and that has been her hardest hit.

“Now that the time is dry we don’t export what we usually do [but] we are now supplying hotels and major supermarkets. We haven’t lost anything for this year…well, in a sense we lost because we had to produce less according to the amount of water we had,” Black told the Jamaica Observer North & East

“With that being said, I would like to thank the Rural Agriculture Development Authority (RADA) for being a tower of strength as they trucked water to us. Peter Thompson, chief executive officer of RADA, I really want to thank him for his help.

“And, now that we are getting rain, it’s a little bit better for us and so now we are able to produce the amount of crops that we used to. We do sweet peppers, yam, lettuce and several herbs and spices,” said Black, who started out with only 600 hills of yam.

Today she has more than 40,000 hills of yam and employs approximately 18 persons, including five females.

Excited about being named Champion Farmer for 2019 Black she told the Observer that: “It’s a great feeling. It’s a really, really great feeling. I grew up with my grandfather farming. He was doing it on a small scale and when we had extra, he would of course sell, but it was mainly for household purposes so farming is something that I have always been close to.”

Black added: “I wasn’t too proud to get my hands dirty as much as I sing and persons who knew me as a singer were shocked to see me venture into farming, but, I’ve always been interested in farming or agriculture.

“I wanted to become a veterinary surgeon and like a lot of people, my parents couldn’t afford it and so I started singing, but nine years ago I decided that I still wanted to do something in farming because I have so much love for it. I’m really passionate about it, so I started and the rest is history.”

She is hoping that her work will be a motivation for other women who are considering getting into farming and despite her success so far Black is aiming higher.

“For Golden Dutchie Farm, the sky is the limit. We are going to be doing a lot of packaging and we are planning to put different products together.

“Right now we have a new product that I can’t mention as yet that we are putting together to introduce to the market and we are hoping to do some processing later on,” said Black.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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