Livern Barrett Gleaner Writer
Not content with $230 million in property and other assets they have already seized from a convicted drug dealer and one of his cronies, Jamaican investigators have set their sights on a further $500 million in assets traced to the drug gang. They have also identified a number of his cronies in Jamaica who are to be slapped with money-laundering charges.
Dean Drummond, who is serving time in a United States (US) prison, is believed to have made billions in the illegal drugs trade, and local investigators are determined to seize every cent of this ill-gotten gain.
Investigators say a large chunk of the half a billion dollars in newly discovered assets is in pricey real estate scattered across Montego Bay, St James, which has been traced to Drummond and seven of his trusted lieutenants.
With attorneys from the Financial Investigations Division (FID) getting ready to go after the assets, one investigator told The Sunday Gleaner that one of Drummond’s associates has signalled, through his attorney, that he will surrender $84 million in real estate holdings.
“His lawyer has agreed to surrender those properties once the necessary applications are filed before the courts,” said the investigator.
This development comes as the FID, whose investigators have “painstakingly” combed through the financial records of Drummond and his associates since 2010, nears the end of its wide-ranging probe.
FID boss, Justin Felice, revealed, during an exclusive interview with The Sunday Gleaner last week, that when the probe has been completed, several persons will be arrested for money laundering and other financial crimes and that the agency will be going to court to have all the assets forfeited to the State.
“The investigations are well advanced for both civil recovery and money laundering, and persons will be criminally charged,” Felice insisted.
Felice said the probe took FID investigators to the US states of Texas and Florida, where Drummond and his lieutenants were questioned.
“We spoke to the main person, and he has given us some useful information, which we are going to act upon shortly,” revealed Felice.
Convicted in 2004
Drummond, who has been described by investigators as the leader of the now-defunct Danger Zone Promotions syndicate based in Montego Bay, was convicted in Florida of drug-trafficking charges in 2004 and sentenced to 27 years in prison.
The US Appeal Court upheld his conviction in 2010, paving the way for the FID to go after nearly $1 billion in assets believed to be owned by members of the syndicate.
By 2011, lawyers for the FID filed their first forfeiture application in the Supreme Court, and six months later, Drummond, through his attorneys, agreed to forfeit his main house, a $63 million two-storey mansion with six bedrooms, located in Ironshore, St James.
Since the start of this year, the FID has obtained two more forfeiture orders from the Supreme Court. The first, which was granted in January, allowed the agency to take possession of five properties and two firearms valued at $55 million.
As a result of the second forfeiture order made in February, the FID said Drummond agreed to surrender six properties valued at $110 million.
“In total so far, Drummond and one of his associates have given up a total of $230 million in property and assets,” one investigator revealed.
Principal director at the FID, Albert Stephens, said this should serve as a warning to drug dealers who believe they can live comfortably from the proceeds of their criminal lifestyle.
“It’s no longer safe for you to be involved in drug dealings and purchase all this real estate, then you come out of it to live a quiet life, because once we have identified your assets, we are coming after it, even without a conviction,” Stephens declared.