Nagra Plunkett, Staff Reporter
THE SLEEPY village of Slipe in St. Elizabeth, located at the edge of the Black River Morass, is gaining notoriety as being heavily involved in a regional illegal gun trade with its Haitian neighbours, according to the police.
"Our information is that persons in Jamaica are taking out ganja to Haiti where it is exchanged for guns," Superintendent Fitzgerald Barrett, commanding officer for St. Elizabeth, told The Gleaner last week. "The arms find their way into the island through the South Coast, Manchester, Clarendon and St. Catherine."
MAJOR TRANSSHIPMENT POINTS
Superintendent Barrett said intelligence fingered the communities of Treasure Beach and Parottee in the parish, as major transshipment points for illegal arms distribution to Spanish Town, Kingston, and to a lesser extent Clarendon.
"We are concerned in St. Elizabeth, because some of the guns remain in the parish, especially in ganja cultivation areas where they are used by some to protect farms," he said. "Slipe is one such area, the neighbouring Vineyard is another."
Superintendent Barrett said the police were working with the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard to secure the shorelines. "On land we are carrying out raids in affected areas, and as such, we have garnered sources," he added.
Superintendent Barrett said it was based on intelligence gathering, that last Thursday's operation was conducted to apprehend wanted men. Chaos erupted after 23-year-old Roger Banton, implicated in the June 2005 murder of a man in Vineyard, St. Elizabeth, was fatally shot.
Residents claim that Banton was killed in cold blood, but the lawmen maintain that the deceased pointed a firearm at them. Several persons, including five policemen, were injured and three service vehicles extensively damaged.
A 9 mm Larcin pistol with three live rounds was seized and two men taken into custody. One of the detainees was arrested for a gun-related offence committed in St. Elizabeth, and the other, a resident of Portmore, St. Catherine, is reportedly wanted in the Corporate Area.
"Despite the commotion, it was a successful operation," Superintendent Barrett said.
The incident is being investigated by the Bureau of Special Investigations.