DESPITE reporting a six per cent spike in murders so far this year, the Police High Command says that serious dents have been made into the activities of several gangs that have been responsible for most of the mayhem that has gripped the country in recent months.
Between January 1 this year and last Sunday, 924 murders were collated by the police in comparison to 869 over the same period last year.
Speaking at a press conference at his office on Old Hope Road in Kingston yesterday, Police Commissioner Owen Ellington said despite the rise in murders the police had managed to collar, arrest or fatally shoot some of the country's major criminals who were responsible for dozens of murders and shootings.
He said the recent implementation of Operation Resilience — an initiative aimed at taking out the major players in the criminal underworld — had reaped rewards, especially in the troubled Kingston West Police Division which had seen a sharp increase in murders and shootings due to a raging gang feud in sections of downtown Kingston formerly controlled by incarcerated Christopher 'Dudus' Coke and Donald 'Zeeks' Phipps.
Rival factions in both communities are fighting tooth and nail over a still lucrative extortion business.
"Since the launch of this operation, we are pleased to say that we have not had one murder or shooting in the area. We have managed to detain a significant number of the individuals, who we are certain, are the ones behind the violence. We have arrested some of them with evidence and, unfortunately, some of them who challenged the police with gunfire have met their demise," he said.
He said the police were certain that those who have been detained or killed were behind the violence. Since their detention or death, he noted, the violence has been almost non-existent and the residents have praised the police for restoring calm.
Deputy Commissioner in charge of crime, Carl Williams said a number of operatives in the feared Four Storey gang who were held or killed by the police have been linked to multiple murders and shootings as results from the ballistic tests carried out on the recovered firearms were "hair-raising".
Williams said following the fatal shooting of Four Storey gang member Fitzroy Gaynor, otherwise known as 'Fresh Prince', and another gang member Demar Cameron at Tulip Lane weeks ago, a firearm that was taken from Gaynor has been tied to multiple murders, including those of two high-ranking retired police officers and the shooting and injury of another.
"That firearm has been linked to numerous murders and shootings in and around the Corporate Area," Williams said.
He said the pistol was linked to the robbery of Devon Cummings in St Mary in January and the shooting of Corporal Leroy Dennis at Three Views Avenue, off Red Hills Road, in St Andrew in February.
"The firearm was also linked to the murder of Vernal Williams at the Causeway Fishing Village, and the murder of Deputy Superintendent Denzil Boyd was committed with this firearm," he said.
Boyd was shot in front of his home as he returned from church in February.
Another Four Storey gang member, Troy Vassel, was also fatally shot by the police in September and a gun taken from him. Vassel was identified as a suspect in the murder of retired Senior Superintendent Tony Hewitt.
"Our investigations linked the firearm taken from Vassel to a number of murders and shootings," he said.
Another alleged gang member identified by police as Shane Coke was arrested and charged with illegal possession of three firearms that were allegedly taken from him.
Williams alleged that one of the guns had been used in the murder of Hewitt while another was used in the murder of Jamaica Public Service contractor Adolf Campbell, who was cut down during a gunfight at Linford Avenue in April.
During that incident, another Four Storey gang member identified as Jason Cunningham was shot dead by Campbell, who was armed with a licensed firearm.
Police said Cunningham was positively identified as one of the gunmen who had attacked Hewitt as he exited his car in the parking lot of an apartment complex in St Andrew.
Williams said the other gun seized from Coke was used to kill Digicel employee Gregory Archer, who was jogging with his son on Montrose Road in the Golden Triangle.
They report that serious inroads have also been made into the criminal activities of gangs in Bull Bay, St Andrew, Westmoreland and St James.
The police have seized 38 illegal guns and 774 rounds of assorted ammunition since the beginning of October.