HomeNewsBriefGang Leader Case to Test Jamaica's Controversial Anti-Gang Legislation
BRIEF

Gang Leader Case to Test Jamaica's Controversial Anti-Gang Legislation

CARIBBEAN / 26 JAN 2015 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Jamaica is to prosecute a gang leader under its new anti-gang law in the biggest test yet for the controversial legislation, which Jamaican authorities hope to use to rein in the island's powerful and violent street gangs.

On January 21, Jamaican police announced that Omar Spaulding, alias "Dawdie," the alleged leader of the Scare Dem gang, will be prosecuted under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act -- more commonly known as the anti-gang law. According to local newspaper the Jamaica Observer, this is the first time the act has been used against the head of a criminal organization.

Spaulding was arrested in May last year in a raid on his house, where police discovered an Uzi sub-machine gun, a pistol and a revolver. Police say his gang was one of the main drivers of the violence that saw west Kingston become one of the island's bloodiest zones.

He was charged alongside 11 alleged associates, two of them under 18, and is set to face additional charges related to the recruitment of minors, reported the Jamaica Observer.

InSight Crime Analysis

Jamaica's anti-gang act came into force last year in an attempt to tackle the island's powerful street gangs. The gangs have a complicated relationship with both the communities they rule over and the political establishment -- which has traditionally employed their territorial power to gain an electoral advantage -- and the act has been heralded as a new tool to break their stranglehold.

However, the law was passed accompanied by a barrage of criticism from civil society groups. The critics said the hardline legislation criminalized a broad range of behavior and activities, risking dragging otherwise law abiding youth from vulnerable areas into the judicial system and criminal life.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Jamaica

The Spaulding case comes at a crucial moment, with the police foreseeing a huge expansion in use of the act in the coming year. Earlier in January, police announced they expect to charge 500 people under the act in 2015, compared to just 26 before the latest charges against Spaulding and his associates, according to the government run Jamaica Information Service.

As the Spaulding case involves the alleged leader of a gang, it will test whether the act genuinely has the capacity to break up organized crime networks, or whether it will go the route of other hardline anti-gang laws in countries such as El Salvador, which succeeded in filling the prisons with youths but failed to weaken the gangs in any significant way.

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

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 8 JUL 2022

Haiti’s Customs Agency has seized an extremely large quantity of illegally imported ammunition.

CARIBBEAN / 27 JUL 2022

Poorly equipped human smugglers have cost the lives of 17 Haitian migrants after their boat capsized near the Bahamas.

CARIBBEAN / 15 OCT 2021

Merchants travelling to Trinidad and Tobago, fishing vessels, even the occasional tourist – all are tempting targets for pirates off…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…