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Feuding gangsters use bottles, stones, machetes instead of guns

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

RESIDENTS in Denham Town are claiming that gangsters from opposing factions in the community are still feuding, despite the area being a zone of special operation.

In fact, residents of the volatile inner-city community say the gang members are no longer able to use guns, so they are now using bottles, machetes and stones instead.

“If you look on the road you see bottles. The amount of bottles mi sweep this morning. Them a war with bottle, machete, stone and dem things deh dem a war with,” a resident, who spoke to the Jamaica Observer on condition of anonymity, said yesterday.

The resident said that even though the community was declared as the country's second zone of special operation in October last year, houses are still being broken into and gang war is still prevalent.

Additionally, the resident, who appeared wary, said the community will return to being an area plagued by crime and violence after the joint force associated with ZOSO departs Denham Town.

“Mi feel like say when ZOSO gone things ago get bad, you understand. Mi nuh really want them left,” the resident said, adding that the crime-fighting initiative allowed the residents to enjoy Christmas.

When the area was declared a ZOSO last year, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the West Kingston community met the first order criteria of ongoing gang warfare; rampant criminality; escalating violence and murder; and proved to be a threat to rule of law.

Another resident shouted yesterday, “ZOSO cyaan left yah or else people ago dead”, from across Regent Street.

“Once them move a problem. We cyaan mek them move. We deh on the ground and we know wah a gwaan. The youths them unruly. ZOSO deh yah and dem still a gwaan wid dem little thing,” the resident, who asked not to be identified, explained to the Observer.

The resident, who has been living in the community for more than 40 years, insisted that members of the joint force need to conduct additional patrols to combat the use of alternative weapons.

“The youth them nuh business, dem do dem thing anytime, anywhere. Dem nuh have no specific time, yuh zimi. If dem (gangsters) a walk this road here, and two set a man buck up and police nuh deh on the road, a problem. A big stone, machete and bottles,” the resident said.

Despite the ongoing gang feud, the resident pointed out that he enjoyed the holiday season.

“Mi love the discipline of the ZOSO still. No disrespect and thing. We like that, yuh nuh. We 'fulljoy' we self,” the resident said.

“They (joint force) are doing a good job,” another resident chimed in.

The resident, who argued that the youths in the community who are linked to criminal activities need to be placed on a tight leash, said he's still trying to fathom the reasons behind their actions.

“Them a gwaan with foolishness. If a never ZOSO we wouldn't see no Christmas. Even with ZOSO in the area them still a use cutlass a beat people. So imagine if ZOSO did gone,” another resident said.

According to one resident, who chimed in, the gangsters are operating in a more strategic manner.

“If me and you have a vibe and mi pass yuh deh so, and yuh look on me certain way and me and you fight and you beat me up, mi just go down there so go call two a my soldiers and then you see my squad come for your squad and who fi lift up, lift up. If the soldiers are on this street, dem go on the other street,” the resident explained.

“ZOSO mek them cyaan do what they want to do, so tension a build up. Them say anytime ZOSO gone a madness. Honestly, mi nuh want dem go away,” the resident said.

Meanwhile, Assistant Superintendent of Police Eron Samuels told the Observer that the police have received reports of the incidents and arrests have been made.

The time originally allotted for the ZOSO expired on December 15. However, it was expanded to an additional 60 days after the House of Representatives approved a motion for the extension in December 2017.

The motion was moved by Prime Minister Holness, who noted then that additional time is needed to facilitate social-intervention activities that require long-term focus and infrastructural investment.