The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is being threatened with legal action after its officers arrested four people, and allegedly broke the law in seizing nearly 800 pounds of meat at a slaughter-house in the Canal area of Banbury, Linstead, St. Catherine.
Alman Armstrong, who has been a butcher for more than 30 years, told The Beacon that he, along with his three employees, was arrested on the night of June 4 when police swooped down on the slaughter-house. They were charged the following day and released.
Armstrong said he has retained the service of a lawyer, adding that he will fight the charges and recover monetary losses.
He said cops, who seemingly are from the Praedial Larceny Department of the St. Catherine North Police Division, carried out the operation.
Armstrong said the officers accused him and his workers of operating without valid butcher’s licence and food handler’s permits. Those documents have expired.
Armstrong contends that the Government had delayed the renewal process for the said documents as part of its effort to slow the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“We are supposed to have licensing session and renewal of food handler’s permits in March, but, because of COVID, the government didn’t do it. So, everybody across the island allowed to use the old ones until the government has the renewal session. So, there is no outdated licence as long as it did licensed last year March,” Armstrong explained.
He also argued that his employees should not have been requested to present a butcher’s licence under law – considering that they work for him and he already has a licence.
Armstrong said he was slapped with additional charges, including disobeying Public Health Act, and failure to give proper information regarding goats. He said there is no truth to the allegations being made by the police.
“It seems it is a personal thing because the police come to my place before and I tell him that him don’t know the law,” Armstrong added.
He further claimed that the police blundered when they seized pork and mutton amounting to nearly 800 pounds, and valued at more than $300,000.
Armstrong said the police took the meat from his slaughter-house on the night of June 4 – the same time the arrests were made.
He said the cops had no authority to make such seizure.
“They took the meat, carry it to Linstead Police Station, and throw it down and mek it spoil. The Public Health Inspectors came and show dem that, even if the meat did thief, they never have any permission to go in my slaughter-house because they are not public health inspectors. Dem can’t condemn no meat; soh dem gone way over bounds,” Armstrong insisted.
He said the police were later ordered to take the meat back to the slaughter-house.
He said the meat was spoiled when it was returned, and so it was disposed of by burning.
Armstrong, who is also called ‘Father Ned’, noted that a pound of mutton is sold for a minimum $800, and pork costs $270 per pound.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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