Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Commish hopeful new surveillance aircraft will seriously help to stem inflow of guns

Published:Friday | June 16, 2017 | 6:00 AMJason Cross
Commissioner of Police George Quallo

Commissioner of Police George Quallo says he is concerned about the alarming numbers of illegal firearms finding their way on to Jamaican shores. At the same time, he has expressed optimism that a surveillance aircraft, which has been procured by the Ministry of National Security, will assist in stemming the flow of illegal guns into Jamaica.

The commissioner was addressing The Gleaner at a press conference on Tuesday, at the Office of the Police Commissioner in St Andrew, to discuss the heightened rate of killings across the island.

"You may be aware that the minister announced some initiatives recently with regard to the purchase of vessels to help patrol our waters. He also announced the procurement of an aircraft which will help us to identify vessels that will be coming into our waters, which we believe, in a number of instances, are the conveyors of not just guns, but other contraband," Quallo told The Gleaner.

He stressed that his concerns originated, in part, from the fact that Jamaica doesn't manufacture guns.

375 guns seized this year

Since the start of the year, up to June 13, 375 illegal firearms were seized by the police, 90 more than the same period last year. Also, 7,196 rounds of ammunition were seized, 2,943 more than the corresponding period last year.

"If you look at the number of guns we have recovered in the last several years, you would realise that it is at an alarming rate. Furthermore, we do not manufacture guns in Jamaica, so we (the police) are very concerned and have entered discussions with our partners, internationally and locally, to stem the number of guns coming into our country. We have been engaging our partners as it relates to the flow of guns," Quallo said.

University of the West Indies sustainable development professor, Anthony Clayton, recently warned that the Caribbean, which includes Jamaica, would be experiencing greater flows of illegal firearms into their territories as a result of economic unrest in Venezuela, one of the most armed nations in the Western Hemisphere. He urged the authorities to remain very vigilant.