Thursday 26 November, 2020

Gangsters now co-operating across political lines, says Chang

Dr Horace Chang (file photo)

Dr Horace Chang (file photo)

Jamaican gangsters are now collaborating to such an extent that they are putting their political affiliations aside in pursuit of their shared criminal interests, according to National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang.

The minister spoke of the collaboration on Sunday during a digital press briefing from Jamaica House, where Prime Minister Andrew Holness earlier announced that a state of emergency (SOE) had been declared for the Kingston western and Kingston central police divisions in the Corporate Area.

“Gangs, guns and dons have been named and understood to be the core of the criminal activities in Jamaica,” Chang said in addressing the briefing.

He said the four police divisions of St Andrew south, Kingston western, Kingston central and Kingston eastern, account for two-thirds of all the gangs operating in the country.

“Intra-gang and inter-gang warfare and conflicts are the basis of more than 80 per cent of the homicides (that are) committed in Jamaica,” said Chang.

He added that the security forces have detected an increase in the level of co-operation between Corporate Area gangs at various levels.

“We’ve noticed in this particular area, increasing alliance between gangs across community and geographic boundaries and even political boundaries,” Chang stated.

According to him, “This signals a level of co-operation between the gangs as they struggle over spoils, whether it is for extortion or imported weapons and other criminal activities that feed the economy of the gangs in these areas. It generates increasing homicides.”

Chang said the Corporate Area has accounted for more than 55 per cent of all the homicides that have been are committed in Jamaica so far in 2020.

He said the level of criminal activities in Kingston west and Kingston central “demands urgent and active attention by the security forces, and in a targeted manner”.

The security minister further said “We’re confident that the security forces will be able to remove from the area, the kind of violence producers who are continuing to create serious pressure on the people of the Corporate Area and in particular, the communities involved in these two divisions.”

Speaking earlier, Holness told the virtual media briefing that the gangs operating in the area have changed their modus operandi, and are no longer confining themselves to geographical areas within community locations, operations and affiliations.

“This presents the possibility of super gangs emerging through collaboration, and this creates a platform for the insemination of more nefarious and foreign criminal activities,” he warned.

The prime minister who holds the defence portfolio, said the security forces have also observed an increase in extortion, in particular around the market districts and the south coast highway improvement project which has started along the Harbour View to Bull Bay corridor.

Jamaican gangs have for decades been linked to the two main political parties, although direct affiliations have always been denied by the parties. The denials have come even when politicians have been known to be friends of dons, and have even attended their funerals.

The two most recent examples of notorious gangs being reportedly affiliated with politics are the Spanish Town-based Clansman and One Order gangs, which are widely perceived to be linked to the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) and the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), respectively.

Various gangs linked to the two parties have for many years been rumoured to collaborate at times, especially in relation to extortion rackets.

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