Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang has outlined to Parliament recent efforts by the security forces to tackle gang violence and criminality in Westmoreland.
Dr Chang was speaking in Parliament Wednesday, May 10, more than a week after seven people were shot dead in Grange Hill, Westmoreland. He told Parliament of the efforts of the security forces since then and outlined the intent of smashing criminal gangs and getting them convicted and taking away their assets. The Minister of Security detailed numbers of people detained, guns and ammunition seized in operations in several towns including Grange Hill, Savanna-la-mar and Negril, now identified as “hot spots.”
“It is clear, Mr. Speaker that the joint security forces relying on intelligence on the grounds and making operational changes have garnered some success in Westmoreland,” Dr Chang said.
Dr Chang said the security forces now have the task of ridding the communities of “violence producers”.
Dr Chang said there is rivalry among six gangs in Westmoreland and that gang feuds are added to by the drugs for guns trade and the lottery scam.
“Westmoreland continues to experience an upsurge in violence with a total of 57 murders and 64 shooting incidents reported for the period of January 1 to May 5, 2018. This represents an increase of 30 percent over the 2017 comparative total. Intelligence suggests that 36 incidents of murders and 18 of shootings have been linked to gang related conflict.”
He said: “Our policy position of dealing with gang leaders is to see them arrested, charged and incarcerated for their crimes against people and the State. We envision in the media; images of dons being escorted to courts by Police Officers as testimony of our new way of doing business.
There is a need to diminish the heroic image of the gang leaders – to apprehend, investigate, convict and incarcerate is the best mechanism.” Dr Chang said
Dr Chang also said that the Government takes seriously its role as protector of the people and said Westmoreland was a good place to start in showing that.