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Jamaica tops homicides in Latin America and the Caribbean

Published:Sunday | January 31, 2021 | 8:59 AM

With recorded killings of 1,301 in 2020, a new report on Latin America and the Caribbean has revealed that Jamaica now has the region’s highest homicide rate at 46.5 per 100,000 people.

InSight Crime’s 2020 Homicide Round-Up released on Friday shows that the island beat out Venezuela (45.6) by just under one percentage point to earn the unflattering distinction.

The two murder capitals in the region were followed by Honduras with 37.6, Trinidad and Tobago with 28.2 and Mexico, 27.

The report noted that United Nations considers any homicide rate of 10 per 100,000 citizens or above to be an “epidemic”. Jamaica’s total killings marked a marginal decline from 2019’s total of 1,339 murders and came as another welcome improvement over 2017’s sum of 1,647.

Quoting reports from The Jamaica Gleaner, the document noted that while breaking from an overall decrease in “serious” crimes last year, shootings across the nation rose. Gangs in Jamaica and Haiti have been engaged in a deadly trade where marijuana is exchanged for guns. Boats loaded with up to 3,000 pounds of cannabis have been heading from Jamaica to nearby Haiti, where drugs are swapped for handguns and high-powered assault weapons.

Following ongoing efforts to target gang violence through the enforcement of Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs), States of Emergency and plans for mass trials last year, Prime Minister Andrew Holness called for citizens to help curb the nation’s culture of violence.

In his New Year message, Holness stated that as part of Jamaica’s long-term security plan, the Government intends to expand ZOSOs, while modernising technology used by its police and defense force heading into 2021.