HomeNewsBriefJamaica Minister: Street Gangs Primary Cause of Violence
BRIEF

Jamaica Minister: Street Gangs Primary Cause of Violence

CARIBBEAN / 22 FEB 2012 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

Jamaica's top security official claims that the country’s violence is due to the mounting threat of street gangs in the island nation, and announced the creation of a new anti-gang policy.

At a press conference yesterday, Jamaica’s National Security Minister Peter Bunting said that police have seen 165 homicides so far this year, compared to 135 during the same period of 2011. According to Bunting, the vast majority of homicides in the country are gang related. He was joined at the conference by Police Commissioner Owen Ellington, who told reporters that police on the island are currently attempting to quell the violence resulting from 42 active gang conflicts.

Bunting also announced that the government of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who was elected just two months ago, is preparing a comprehensive anti-gang policy which is intended to bring the country’s homicide rate down significantly over the next five years. By 2017, the government hopes to reduce the number of homicides to a maximum of 321, which Bunting described as “First World levels.” Last year, police registered 1,124 murders on the island, the lowest number since 2003.

InSight Crime Analysis

Bunting’s remarks about the influence of Jamaican street gangs are supported by a recently-released UN report on citizen security in the Caribbean. The study found that in 2009 about 48 percent of killings in Jamaica were gang-related, up from 33 percent in 2006.

Jamaica also has the highest number of gangs in the region, with an estimated 268 criminal bands on its streets. Perhaps the best known street gang is the Shower Posse gang, based in the West Kingston neighborhood of Tivoli Gardens. The Shower Posse was significantly weakened following the June 2010 arrest of drug kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke, but is still among the most influential gangs in Kingston.

Prime Minister Simpson Miller’s promised security plan is ambitious, but its implementation may be slowed by the entrenched corruption in the country. Jamaican gangs are notorious for their hierarchical structure, and are frequently involved in politics. While usually this involvement only takes place at the local level, with neighborhood gang leaders pledging to support a political candidate in exchange for favors, the difficulty prosecutors faced in extraditing “Dudus” Coke illustrates that some gangs hold sway amongst even the highest levels of Jamaican government.

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

BRAZIL / 24 FEB 2016

A new book by journalist Ioan Grillo on Latin American organized crime offers a fascinating tour of four distinct criminal…

COLOMBIA / 28 JUN 2021

Convulsed by nearly eight weeks of anti-government protests, the Colombian city of Cali has also experienced a terrible surge in…

COSTA RICA / 5 JAN 2016

Homicides reached historic levels during the past year in Costa Rica, forcing authorities to look for new ways to counteract…

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…