PETER Bunting yesterday said a general increase in the number of inter- and intra-gang conflicts is among several reasons for the spike in murders which have made for an unusually bloody summer with an average four murders per day for the period June 30 to August 31.
In a statement to the House of Representatives yesterday, the national security minister said analysis of the murder attribution statistics shows that the largest increase in homicides during the period falls within the category "murders in the course of robbery".
"There were 90 murders in this category for the spike period in 2013 versus 41 in 2012. This may suggest that more hardened gunmen or gang members are diversifying into robbery as other sources of illicit income, such as extortion or lottery scamming, are squeezed," Bunting said.
In noting that a general increase in the number of inter and intra-gang conflicts is also thought to be a factor, he said the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) is monitoring approximately 50 of these situations currently.
He said contributing factors to these increased conflicts include "a predicted increase in the trafficking of drugs and guns due to a so-called 'balloon effect'," caused by the fact that as the war on drugs heats up in Central America, more cocaine traffic is starting to return to the historical Caribbean routes.
Bunting said cocaine seizures by the Jamaica Constabulary Force, which can be used as one indicator of total cocaine traffic, have more than doubled year-to-date (Jan-July) with 354 Kkg seized as against 152 kg last year.
"There has also been an increase in marijuana interdictions. Similarly, the police have seized 479 guns year-to-date (January to August) compared to 397 for the similar period last year, the increased trafficking is likely fuelling increased gang activity," Bunting added.
Another reason for the spike, he said, was that in recent times a number of alleged gang leaders have been released from custody for a variety of reasons.
"Since their release there has been an increase in murder in the areas where they have influence. The NIB indicates that this increase is a result of attempts by these leaders to reassert their authority and exact retribution on those who did not support them during incarceration," Bunting told the House.
He also said the infamous lottery scamming continues to fuel murders by gangs, with there being four murders related to lottery scamming during the last week alone.
In the meantime, he said that to combat the situation, the Administration intends to accelerate the passage through Parliament of the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Organised Criminal Organisations) Bill, more commonly referred to as the 'Anti-Gang' Bill.