Over 250 gangs in KMR fuelling Jamaica’s homicide rate

MORE than 250 gangs plaguing the Corporate Area have accounted for more than half the country’s homicide rate since the start of the year, Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang has said.

Speaking at Sunday’s virtual press conference from Jamaica House in St Andrew, Chang said that of the 389 active gangs operating in the country, two-thirds of them are from four police divisions within the Kingston Metropolitan Region.

The divisions: Kingston Eastern, Kingston Western, Kingston Central, and St Andrew South, are all currently under states of public emergency.

Chang said gangs in these divisions are responsible for 55 per cent of the almost 600 murders committed since January.

“Gangs, guns and dons are understood to be the core of the criminal activity in Jamaica. Intra-gang and inter-gang warfare conflict is the basis of more than 80 per cent of the homicides committed in Jamaica. We have noticed in [these] particular areas indicated, [an] increase in alliance between gangs across communities, geographical boundaries and even political boundaries, which signals a level of cooperation 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,” the minister said.

He said, too, that the level of criminal activities in the Kingston Central and Kingston Western police divisions — the latest divisions to come under states of public emergency — has increased, and demands urgent attention from the security forces in a targeted manner.

The two divisions link the Kingston Eastern Police Division and St Andrew South Police Division.

This means that there are only two police divisions — St Andrew North and St Andrew Central — in the Corporate Area operating without states of public emergency.

“We are confident that the security forces will be able to remove from the area the kind of violence-producers that continue to create serious pressure on the people of the Corporate Area and, in particular, the communities involved in these divisions,” said Chang.

At the same time, he said that the security forces will “continue to increase other strategic development activities” within their respective organisations and establish a strong anti-gang team to deal with gang activities across the island.

The minister said that the southern belt of the Corporate Area alone accounts for 134 gangs.

“I want to assure the public that the security forces will continue to expand and increase their strategic activities. The Government will seek and ensure that they are provided with the requisite legislative, fiscal and other facilities required to improve their efficiency, and ensure that they can deal with the level of gang activity in Jamaica,” said the minister.

“It will take some time, but we seek the cooperation and the support of all citizens in ridding Jamaica of the great plague of disease and gang violence that undermines much of what we do as civil society and as a State,” he added.

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