Gangsters in the west are networking - SSP Parkins
In addition to the 16 active criminal gangs operating in the parish, Senior Superintendent of Police Egbert Parkins, the commanding officer for the Westmoreland Police Division, says migrating criminals from St James and Hanover are also adding to the challenge in tackling the ongoing lawlessness in the parish.
"The gangs have established links with other gangs from the neighbouring parishes of Hanover and St James, which is creating a unique challenge for officers in their bid to apprehend them," said Parkins. "We have reliable information that the Dexter Street gang is aligned with the Sparta gang in St James, while Darling Street has links with the Rebel gang out of St James."
According to Parkins, the gangs have been linked to 58 per cent of the 77 murders recorded in the parish since the start of the year. He noted that the vast majority of the individuals on the police's most wanted list are tied to the gangs, which are primarily based in Savanna-la-Mar, Bethel Town and Negril.
"The top five gangs in Westmoreland are the Kings Valley gang in Morgan's Bridge; the One Link gang and Sparta Rebel in Negril; and the Venomous Vipers and the Far Out Rebel in Bethel Town," said SSP Parkins. "Next in line are, the Dexter Street and Darling Street gangs in Savanna-la-Mar, the Bloody Eye gang in Bethel Town and the 100 Round gang in Negril."
The networking by the gangs, including bringing gangsters from outside the parish, is a major headache for Parkins as the outsiders are usually brought in whenever there are conflicts between the gangs.
"These gangs in the parish have regular conflicts. They fight over proceed of crime that comes from lottery scamming, guns gone missing, issues relating to disrespect and leadership issues," said Parkins. "These gangs are giving the police a unique challenge when committing their murders because they use motorbikes to commit their crime."
Police remain steadfast to dismantle gangs
While the crime situation is somewhat daunting, Perkins said the police would remain steadfast and relentless in their pursuit and dismantling of the gangs.
"a number of the top gangsters have been apprehended due to collaborative efforts with stakeholders and communities," said Parkins. "In addition, we have increased the number of road checks to intercept persons who use motorbikes to carry out their crime."
"We went back to the drawing board, looked at the gaps and have put more measure in place," added Parkins.
Last weekend, Sadan 'Sadam' Mullings, who was wanted by the police for some 20 murders across western Jamaica, was killed in a blazing gun battle with the Westmoreland police.