Thursday 4 June, 2020

More females falling victims of gang feuds

More women are losing their lives amid gang violence as brutal gang-bangers turn their guns on innocents, murdered only because they are related or just linked to the enemies who criminals are finding it hard to catch.

Gang-related killings of women moved from a low of 11 in 2014, to a high of a 58 murders in 2017, before trending down to 28 in the year 2018.

The murders of women are particularly high in war-torn, gritty communities in St Catherine, St. James and Clarendon.

In the St James Police Division, there were 95 murders of women between the years 2014 to 2018, while in Clarendon there were 67 murders recorded over the same period.

The more dangerous police divisions for women over the same period included St Catherine North, with 66 murders, Westmoreland with 55, and Hanover with 37 deaths.

Police investigators say the whole dynamic of gangs has changed dramatically over the last two decades, and there is no longer a pecking order or leadership that holds its members accountable for crossing the line, as large gangs have fractured into smaller factions without clearly defined leaders.

Gang members can now go out on their own and do what they want with very little ramifications within their group, an experienced cop said.

"It’s war... and all is fair in war," the crime-fighter told Loop News.

“There are no rules. The potential to do something like that always existed, where if two gang members are having a conflict, they take it out on someone near and dear. Remember they have killed several fathers dropping off their kids at school. Women, grandmothers and kids are just collateral damage. Remember the murders in Logwood a few years ago?" stated the officer.

Six members of one family were killed in Logwood, one of the most populous feeder communities to Green Island in Hanover in October 2015. The house where the killings were done was torched after the attack. The deceased included two teenagers, a woman and a 62-year-old man. The bodies were found in the rubble of the burned house. Four other occupants of the home were treated for burns.

Two men, who were charged with the murder of the six family members, were given life sentences when in the Home Circuit Court in December 2018. The convicts are then 27-year-old Mikhail Campbell, otherwise called 'Troy', a bike taxi operator of Green Island, Hanover, and then 51-year-old Errol Clarke, otherwise called 'Scorcher', a construction worker of Mountainside in the parish.

Investigators linked the massacre to the island's international lottery scam crime rings.

"Everyone is considered ‘fair game’ (now) for many of them. There is no such thing as a little kid in their minds," the crime-fighter said.

One troubling statistic is a category dubbed 'Not Yet Established', where no motive had been unearthed for the murder. This category racked up a total of 314 women who were killed as a result of predatory males or random acts of homicide that seemed to defy explanation. 

Women and children have become another victim in what police investigators call a culture of 'you can't ketch Kwako, you ketch him shut' killings across the island, in which gunmen turn their weapons on anyone related to their enemies.

"At one time, it was not commonly seen in street gang warfare largely because when children and other unaffiliated family members are intentionally targeted, the unspoken rules of combat had gone through the window. Now when they have problems with each other, they don't go after the gunman, they will go after softer targets - mothers, sisters, aunties, girlfriends and the whole family sometimes. So this argument about 'can't ketch Kwako, you ketch him shut', it happens in truth," another senior sleuth said.

One of the senior cops, who operated in the gritty St Catherine North Police Division, said in some instances, entire families have had to pack up and leave communities because their relatives had been implicated in shootings.

"If they don't pack up, you can guarantee that a bottle bomb (Molotov cocktail) will find their house, and you know what that can mean,” said the officer of his St Catherine experience.

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