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

ARGENTINA / 1 FEB 2022

In 2021, most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean experienced a marked increase in murders. Resurgent violence was to…

CARIBBEAN / 23 NOV 2010

Police in Puerto Rico arrested 17 people yesterday accused of ties to the island's most notorious drug trafficker, Jose Figueroa…

CARIBBEAN / 8 JUN 2016

The Caribbean archipelago of San Andrés, Colombia, has been a smuggling hub for centuries, serving as a crossroads for illegal activities…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…