Sun | Sep 15, 2019

33 guns, 9 top-flight gangsters held under western SOE

Published:Tuesday | August 20, 2019 | 12:18 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor

Western Bureau:

In just over three months since the state of emergency (SOE) was declared in Hanover, Westmoreland and St James, the security forces have seized 33 illegal firearms and more than 3,700 rounds of ammunition. Nine alleged top-flight gangsters have also been reportedly collared.

St James, the only western parish which has not seen a reduction in murders so far this year, tops the list in the seizure of guns and ammunition and arrests. A total of 22 firearms, inclusive of several rifles; and 3,681 rounds of assorted ammunition have been seized in the parish. Four persons have also been arrested and charged for various offences.

At the start of the year, Superintendent Vernon Ellis, the police commander for St James, declared that he was pushing to have murders fall below 100 for the first time since 2006. However, with just over four months to go and more than 80 killed so far this year, it seems a tall order.

“We had a spike in murders between the ending of the first SOE in late January and the declaration of the latest SOE in April, but we remain undaunted,” said Ellis. “We are enjoying much success in the area of social intervention in places like Salt Spring, where we are doing a feeding programme at the school and recently had a very successful summer camp.”

Fewer homicides in Westmoreland

Westmoreland, which led the region in murders last year, has seen a major reduction in homicides and shootings this year.

So far under the SOE, the security forces have seized nine firearms, 34 rounds of ammunition and arrested five alleged top-flight gangsters in Westmoreland. Towns like Bethel Town and Savanna-la-Mar are now experiencing calm for the first time in over a year.

Hanover, which was transformed from being are of the nation’s most peaceful parishes to one of the most violent in under a decade, has seen a 50 per cent decrease in murders over last year. Since the imposition of the SOE, the police have seized two illegal firearms and three rounds of ammunition.

adrian.frater@gleanerjm.com