Sat | Apr 21, 2018

Guns galore - More than 1,000 illegal firearms seized by the police in 14 months

Published:Sunday | March 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson

The police have seized more than 1,000 illegal guns since last year, and that, they say, is a sign that they are making slow but steady progress in getting the guns out of the hands of

criminals.

Data provided by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) show St James as the area where the most illegal guns have been seized, with St Andrew South and St Catherine North following close behind.

"One of the major efforts in managing crime in Jamaica is to remove illegal guns from the streets, and I believe that the numbers are indicative of the efforts we are making, and can make, with more information from the public," said Assistant Superintendent Dahlia Garrick, head of the JCF's Corporate Communications Unit, last week.

"Our law-enforcement officers are committed to creating safer communities, and we ask the public to partner with us and tell us what you know," added Garrick.

She noted that in addition to the 1,035 illegal guns, the police have seized 24,237 rounds of ammunition since January last year.

Last week, a police source in St James told The Sunday Gleaner that because of the illicit lottery scam, illegal weapons have become commonplace in the parish, where it is alleged that illegal gun shops operate.

 

Guns easily rented

 

A source close to the criminal underworld in the parish reported that guns are easily rented at a price, depending on the use.

"Most of the guns in St James come through the wharf. You can get a brand new handgun

to buy for $250,000 and a rifle from anywhere between $650,000 to $700,000," said the source.

He alleged that there is at least one informal gun salesman who is ready to rent persons firearms in all of the volatile communities in the parish.

"A man who doesn't own a gun, but he wants one to go on a works, can rent one for up to $70,000 for the night. So you go do your work and bring it back in the morning and him don't business how much you make," explained the source.

He added that in many cases, the illicit gun business is run by persons involved in the lucrative lottery scam.

Last Friday, head of the Criminal Investigations Branch, Senior Superintendent McArthur Sutherland, said the issue of thugs selling and renting illegal guns is one that his office has been investigating.

"It is nothing new in terms of our information. We have heard about the rental and sale of weapons over the years and we are looking forward to some legislative changes in terms of dealing and the trafficking of weapons," said Sutherland.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com