50 suspected Clansman gangsters to go on trial

ABOUT 50 individuals suspected to be members of the violent St Catherine-based Clansman Gang are expected to go on trial in Spanish Town, St Catherine courts soon.

Newly promoted minister without portfolio in the Ministry of National Security Senator Matthew Samuda told the Senate yesterday that evidence for the detention of the alleged gangsters and the charges laid against them emerged from intelligence work done by the police.

“It is related to the Clansman Gang and I believe that more than 50 persons will go on trial, which would be the largest such gang trial, certainly in the Caribbean; I want to say anywhere, but from the numbers I have, I will say in the Caribbean,” Samuda said.

“It is something that shows the benefit of significant detective and intelligence work, and it is something that we hope will help us break the crime situation in St Catherine,” he added.

The senator was closing the debate on the report of a joint select committee of Parliament, which reviewed and reported on the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) Act, 2014, better known as the anti-gang legislation.

The report was approved in the House of Representatives on May 29.

Responding to claims by Opposition senators that the current state of emergency (SOE), including in St Catherine North, were not working, the minister questioned their rejection of the results that showed, apart from St Catherine North — the home of the Clansman Gang, which had a 36 per cent increase — all other SOEs were reflecting declining murder figures.

He said, according to police figures, up to the end of May, there were declines in murders in the SOE areas as follows: Westmoreland down 29.5 per cent; Hanover down 37.5 per cent; Clarendon down 11 per cent; St Catherine South (Portmore) down eight per cent; and St James down by 20 per cent. Southern St Andrew however was down a meagre 2.9 per cent.

He also noted that, in terms of the top crimes committed in Jamaica, larceny was down by 39.3 per cent, rape down by 29.4 per cent, break-ins down by 18.2 per cent; shooting down by 9.9 per cent; and murder down by .5 per cent.

He was particularly upbeat that, in addition to reducing crimes in St James by 20 per cent, the police had seized over 10 high-powered rifles over the previous 10 days.

“We are breaking the back of crime in western Jamaica, and we are seeing success,” he insisted.

The Senate eventually approved the recommendations from the joint select committee, which are to be addressed through amendments to the anti-gang Act and other crime-fighting pieces of legislation.

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