Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
Lawmen refuse to back down after threats from Central Village gang
The St Catherine South police have declared that they will not be daunted and are more resolved than ever after threats from a deadly gang roaming the streets of the division.
On the weekend, thugs linked to the Pepper gang in Central Village, St Catherine, reportedly sent a warning to the police to stay out of their business and area after recent actions by law enforcers began cutting off their source of funding and interfering with their criminal activities.
"The police will continue to maintain a strong presence in the division and carry out our operations against criminal activities. We will not be daunted by any criminal element in carrying out our jobs," declared a defiant Detective Sergeant Basil Green, officer in charge of crime for Central Village in the St Catherine South Division.
Green said the threats stemmed from the police dismantling an extortion racket involving the construction of a factory by a major company off Mandela Highway.
"Last week, we discovered that the Pepper gang was sending persons to work on the site and those persons, in turn, had to turn over a portion of their earnings to the gang to support their criminal activity," Green told The Gleaner yesterday.
"We stepped in and put a stop to it, preventing any of them from getting work on the site and ordering those already there to leave the site, cutting off the gang's financial source. This, plus the police killing of one of their gang members, is what got them riled up and they started to sound warnings, sending word that we are being targeted."
The detective sergeant said the Pepper gang, allegedly run by Strokley Collins, aka Pepper, and located in Windsor Heights, has been a major thorn in their side.
The police stepped up their operations in the area, which led to a confrontation with the gang on September 8. This resulted in the death of Steve McLeggon, aka Kevin.
Green said McLeggon was wanted for several murders and shootings in St Catherine and St Elizabeth.
"Windsor Heights, Big Lane and Little Lane in Central Village have been plagued by turf war and fight over extortion money and fight over leadership in the community, which are causing the crime problem we are facing now," said Green.
He added: "We are determined to put an end to it, but the police can't be successful in fighting criminals unless we get help from citizens in the area."
Earlier this month, two separate attacks by criminals in Big Lane and Zambia left five people dead and three injured. Since the shootings, the police and the military have stepped up patrols across the entire Central Village division, maintaining a heavy presence.
"With more than 20 years on the job, I have been through a lot, working in the heart of some of the worst high-crime areas, working tirelessly night and day. I am not daunted by threats. It just makes me tougher in carrying out my duties," stated the crime fighter.