Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Over 2,000 rounds of ammunition seized

Published:Tuesday | March 3, 2015 | 12:00 AMGlenroy Sinclair

More than 2,000 rounds of ammunition that were intended to be distributed in the criminal underworld are now in the safe hands of the police. This follows an intelligence-driven operation yesterday, which resulted in the arrest of four St Elizabeth men.

"A gun without ammunition is useless, so this is a significant dent to the criminal network," commented Assistant Commissioner Ealan Powell, head of the Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB), who believed the ammunition was part of the ongoing guns-for-drugs trade.

According to the police, 2,050 rounds of ammunition were found in one of two cars that were stopped and searched in the vicinity of the Grove Place main road in Manchester yesterday. The contraband included six hundred .45 rounds and one thousand, four hundred and fifty 9mm rounds with an estimated street value of just under $300,000.

"Every year we seize an average of 600 illegal guns, but not often we find this cache of ammunition. I cannot say much at the moment, because the investigation is still in progress; we intend to get to the source," said Powell.

The flow of illegal guns and ammunition into the island has been a major headache for the police. This latest seizure has pushed the amount of ammunition seized since the start of the year to more than 3,270 rounds, while up to Monday, at least 108 illegal guns have been removed from the streets. According to the Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) Weekly Crime Review, of the 181 persons murdered up to Sunday, the gun was used in 95 of these killings.

Deportees' contribution

In October 2000, the Police Executive Research Forum initiated a preliminary evaluation of violent crime and murders in Kingston. Among their findings, the Washington, DC-based group said the flow of firearms and deportees from the United States was constantly cited as a major contribution to Jamaica's violent crime. It said most guns are thought to come from the United States in barrels and shipping containers that enter through Jamaican ports.

A week ago, head of the newly formed Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch, Devon Watkis, said the JCF was in the process of strengthening its external partnership arrangements. This is aimed at more tightly monitoring the inflow of illegal weapons by deploying several senior officers overseas to collaborate with the international partners to help improve the country's crime-fighting strategies.

glenroy.sinclair@gleanerjm.com