MoBay crime not fuelled by local criminals - Chang

Observer West reporter

Thursday, November 07, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang is blaming “major transnational gangsters” who he says are providing the funding for their cronies in the local criminal network to purchase illegal guns and ammunition, for undermining the island's security.

“They (transnational gangsters) are the real problem that are undermining much of the security in Jamaica and creating major problems and also driving the murder rate, because they provide the funding for the firearms which are used by some of our young men to kill each other,” Dr Chang charged.

But he noted that the dismantling of the transnational gangs and the reduction of homicides are among the Government's priorities.

“The real big gangs that are hurting society, are the ones that are operating internationally. Those of us who are here in Montego Bay hear various names. But there are individuals who operate on the international scale who create and bring guns in from North America, sell drugs in North America, operate into various areas of international criminal activity and they fund the community gangs,” Dr Chang argued.

In September, while speaking at a forum entitled 'Scamming, Gangs and Violence in Montego Bay', put on by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Mayor of Montego Bay Councillor Homer Davis made an impassioned plea for more to be done by security officials in countries such as the United States of America and Haiti, to stem the flow of illegal weapons into Jamaica.

Citing that those are mostly the countries from which illegal weapons are shipped to the island, Mayor Davis expressed confidence that if the flow of illegal weapons to Jamaica is stemmed, the rate of gun murders in the country will be significantly reduced.

“If we can stop the flow of guns we would not empower these gangsters or these scammers. There would not be anything for them (the scammers) to buy. We are not in agreement with scamming. We know that people…pensioners have suffered immensely as a result of the action of these scammers. What we are saying to our partners is help us to police our space, help us to restrict the flow of arms,” Mayor Davis argued then.

“We have over 1,000 kilometers of shoreline…we are 1,000 kilometers from the United States of America, we are less than 500 kilometres from Haiti and these are the points of departure for these weapons that come into Jamaica.”

He noted that based on information from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the gun remains the weapon of choice for criminals.

“I am making a special appeal to see how our partners can (further) assist us in reducing the flow of guns as the statistics from the police will tell us that almost 75 per cent of the murders in Jamaica are committed by the guns,” said Mayor Davis.

Last week, Dr Chang, who was speaking at the State of Awareness Security Seminar at The University of the west Indies (UWI) Western Jamaica Campus, Montego Bay, put on by the university under the theme: 'Don't be a Victim: Act and be Safe', argued that extraordinary measures were necessary to counter the St James murder rate, which stood at 183 per 100,000 people in 2017, the highest in the world.

He pointed out that even with the best efforts of the hard-working members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, it was impossible for them to address the crime situation.

“They are hard-working, but it is almost impossible to build a police force that can deal with a murder rate of 183 to 100,000. So you literally have to find extraordinary measures and that's where a state of emergency comes in. We call it enhanced security measures and in the meantime when we take charge in those situations...reduce the killings that's all the state of emergency is designed to do... is to stop the killings and then we build out the police force to deal with the reduced rate,” he said.

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