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August 12, 2014
Star News



André Williams, STAR Writer

In light of Sunday's prison break in Haiti where more than 300 prisoners escaped during a successful attempt to free the son of a prominent businessman, the JDF said they are taking the necessary precautions to protect Jamaican waters.

Speaking with THE STAR yesterday, the JDF indicated that they are aware of the current situation in Haiti, and the implications it may have on Jamaican shores.

Major Basil Jarrett, civil/military cooperation officer for the Jamaica Defence Force, said, "Yes, we are aware and are now doing the required operations with the US military and Haitian government and all other bodies that help us to police our waters."

He continued, "As you know, the JDF Coast Guard is primarily responsible for maritime law enforcement and maritime domain awareness in our territorial waters, and in that regard, we have stepped up our surveillance and routine patrols in order to increase our presence and visibility."

When quizzed by THE STAR if the JDF was capable of curtailing such movements should the Haitians try to relocate to Jamaica, Jarrett said, "We have also been in dialogue with the relevant regional partners and liaisons in Haiti to help coordinate these activities and we are confident that we will be able to curtail any such movement, should persons attempt to flee to Jamaica."

The JDF is also imploring Jamaicans to be vigilant.

"We are, however, reminding Jamaicans that these persons are not refugees, but criminals and so we are advising fisher folk, and persons living on coastal areas to be very vigilant of any suspicious activity. In such instances, we are asking them to alert the JDF Coast Guard at 967-8193 or the maritime police."

Sunday's events were triggered after gunmen attacked the prison outside the Haitian capital and wounded two guards.

Police believe the attack was intended to free Clifford Brandt, a member of a wealthy family who has been held since 2012 on kidnapping charges.

Meanwhile, The Haitian police have sought international help following the prison break that freed the son of a prominent businessman, and allowed hundreds of other inmates to escape.

Haitian National Police Chief, Godson Orleus, said 329 prisoners escaped during the raid on the prison in Croix-des-Bouquets.

Yesterday, Orleus told reporters that authorities are searching for the prisoners throughout the country.

He said they have also asked for help from police in the neighbouring Dominican Republic and in nearby Jamaica because some of the escaped inmates may have fled abroad.

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