HomeNewsBriefJamaica Brings Back Security Force Occupation as Violence Rises
BRIEF

Jamaica Brings Back Security Force Occupation as Violence Rises

CARIBBEAN / 24 APR 2018 BY ANGELIKA ALBALADEJO EN

Security forces in Jamaica are being sent back into a neighborhood where the recent withdrawal of a joint military-police occupation led to a spike in murders, highlighting the ineffectiveness of short-term strategies that don't tackle the roots of entrenched gang control.

Amid concerns over a surge in homicides in recent weeks, police and soldiers were redeployed on April 23 to the west Kingston neighborhood of Denham Town, one of three high-crime locations designated as “zones of special operations” (ZOSO) late last year, the Jamaica Gleaner reported.

Six months into the rollout of the ZOSO program in Denham Town, authorities had moved ahead in their “clear, hold and build” strategy, scaling back security forces to allow for the implementation of social intervention projects. However, immediately following the withdrawal of police and soldiers, local residents told the Jamaica Gleaner that “heavily armed rival gangs are again running riot,” and at least 20 people have been gunned down.

In response to the surge in violence, ZOSO communications head Dian Bartley said that officials have had to “restrategize” their approach, reestablishing security checkpoints and returning police and soldiers to patrol the streets as “criminal elements” are “seeking to exploit the gains” of the program.

Earlier this month, Jamaica’s congress voted to extend the ZOSO program for an additional 60 days, the third such extension for Denham Town and the fourth for the neighborhood of Mount Salem in northwestern Jamaica’s Montego Bay area. At the time of the vote, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that “crime has been significantly reduced and the residents [of the ZOSOs] have been enjoying some level of peace in their community.”

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Security Policy

Several other officials tied to the security strategy have also pointed to the positive impact of the ZOSOs. In March, Jamaica Defense Force Colonel Daniel Pryce, who is in charge of implementing the program, boasted that the “zones of special operations have been very successful.” Local councillors for Mount Salem and neighboring Montego Bay have also thrown their support behind the program, citing progress on social and infrastructure projects that have been facilitated by heightened security.

However, Fitz Jackson, the national security spokesman for the opposition People’s National Party, has criticized the ZOSOs and the use of states of emergency in various other neighborhoods as “temporary measures” that “cannot contain the widespread problems” fueling Jamaica’s “crime issue.”

InSight Crime Analysis

As Jamaica’s security situation continues to deteriorate, authorities appear to be clumsily implementing a short-sighted and heavy-handed security approach that is missing the mark when comes to quelling rising murder rates and disrupting the criminal activities of local gangs.

As InSight Crime has previously reported, since its launch in September 2017, the security crackdown has “been marred by rushed implementation, at times based on unreliable information,” and may be fueling gang recruitment and overburdening jails.

In fact, Jamaica’s rising homicide rate in the last three years is likely being exacerbated by the crackdown, which has caused the island nation’s gangs to splinter, disperse and diversify their criminal activities.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Jamaica

For decades, corruption within Jamaica’s two main political parties has given criminals free reign in “garrison communities” -- neighborhoods controlled by gangs known as "posses" that support the election of friendly politicians to ensure their criminal activities go undeterred. However, in recent years, as some politicians have sought to distance themselves from the gangs, and security operations have taken down top bosses, the ensuing chaos has fueled violent clashes for control over lucrative criminal activities.

These dynamics may be behind the recent wave of murders in Dunham Town. According to the Jamaica Gleaner, local residents believe the killings are linked to a gang feud between rival factions from Denham Town and neighboring Tivoli Gardens, which has recently forged an alliance with gang members from Golden Heights.

While elevated fears among Dunham Town residents have led some to welcome the return of police and soldiers, others believe the security occupation will do little to quell crime unless remaining ties between crime groups and politicians are addressed.

"This is bigger than police and soldiers. They can't stop this. Only politicians can stop this because here is a garrison," one resident told the Jamaica Gleaner.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 28 OCT 2015

Mexico is launching a new security initiative in its most violent state, Guerrero, but doubts persist over…

CARIBBEAN / 18 FEB 2022

Dominican authorities recently intercepted a cocaine-laden speedboat destined for Puerto Rico – the latest in a series of maritime seizures…

CARIBBEAN / 8 JAN 2016

Jamaica's homicide rate reached an alarming five-year high in 2015, with the uptick believed to have been driven…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Oceans Pillaged in Central America and the Caribbean

5 AUG 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the first installment of a nine-part investigation uncovering the hidden depths of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Latin America. The first installment covered Central America and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela’s Tren de Aragua Becomes Truly Transnational

29 JUL 2022

This week, InSight Crime published a deep dive into the total control that Venezuelan mega-gang, Tren de Aragua, has over the lives of those it smuggles between Venezuela and Chile…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkish Traffickers Delivering Latin American Cocaine to Persian Gulf

15 JUL 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an investigation piecing together the emerging role of Turkish cocaine traffickers in supplying Russia and the Persian Gulf, which are among…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkey as a Lynchpin in European Cocaine Pipeline

8 JUL 2022

InSight Crime is extending its investigation into the cocaine pipeline to Europe, and tracking the growing connections between Latin American drug traffickers and European criminal organizations. This led us to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Memo Fantasma Coverage Gets Worldwide Attention

1 JUL 2022

Guillermo Acevedo, the former Colombian drug lord and paramilitary commander better known as Memo Fantasma, may soon be allowed to leave prison. Since first revealing the identity of Memo Fantasma…