HomeNewsBriefJamaica Sees 20% Spike in Murders
BRIEF

Jamaica Sees 20% Spike in Murders

HOMICIDES / 28 AUG 2015 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Jamaica has suffered a sharp uptick in murders this year, raising fears that a shift in the island nation’s criminal dynamics is to blame.

As of August 24, 775 people had been murdered this year in Jamaica, according to government statistics obtained by The Gleaner. This figure represents a 20 percent increase over the same period in 2014, when 643 people were killed.

According to The Gleaner, 12 of Jamaica’s 19 police divisions have reported an increase in homicides. The parishes of St. James and Clarendon have seen a 60 percent and 42 percent increase in murders, respectively.

Derrick Smith, Opposition Spokesman on National Security, said Jamaica was in the midst of a “murder wave,” and that “every month for this year, including August, is showing an increase [in murders] over the last year.” 

However, National Security Minister Peter Bunting estimated 2015 would end with “about 1,200 murders,” the same amount as 2013 “and almost 500 fewer than the 1,692 murders in 2009.”

InSight Crime Analysis

Jamaica’s murder count has fluctuated in recent years. For instance, the 1,124 murders recorded in 2011 marked the country’s lowest homicide rate since 2003. Yet violence spiked once again in 2013, with the rise in murders blamed on increased gang activity. In 2014, Jamaica registered a total of 1,005 homicides, a 16 percent decrease from the previous year. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Jamaica

Jamaica’s powerful — and politically influential — gangs have regularly been pointed to as a principal cause of violence; the rise and fall of homicides in certain areas appears partly attributable to shifting gang feuds and truces.

The recent spike in murders may therefore reflect changing dynamics in Jamaica’s criminal underworld — similar to what occurred following the 2010 arrest and subsequent extradition of famed Jamaican drug kingpin Christopher “Dudus” Coke. The power vacuum created by his detention led to heightened violence as competing groups jockeyed for control of his criminal empire.

Government officials have offered their own hypotheses for what could be driving violence in Jamaica this year. Smith blamed the murder spike on the country’s economic troubles, saying it has made young men “feel hopeless,” and thereby “making them easy targets for criminal gangs.” Bunting, without further elaboration, said there were several factors contributing to a rise in violent crime, “many of which are outside the control of law enforcement.”

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

BARRIO 18 / 10 DEC 2015

The number of asylum seekers from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala in the United States shot up 410 percent between…

ARGENTINA / 24 JAN 2014

Youth and minors are responsible for a rising percentage of violent crimes in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. They are also…

BRAZIL / 4 FEB 2015

Brazil's most violent major city, the colonial metropolis of Salvador de Bahia on the country's northern coast, has been hit…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…