Sun | Jul 25, 2021

US, Bahamas crime link | Former don caught trying to illegally enter US

Published:Sunday | June 20, 2021 | 12:12 AMLivern Barrett - Senior Staff Reporter

The man seen on American television stations last week blaming Jamaica’s high murder rate for trying to illegally enter the United States (US) by boat is a “former don” with multiple convictions, Jamaican law-enforcement officials have revealed....

The man seen on American television stations last week blaming Jamaica’s high murder rate for trying to illegally enter the United States (US) by boat is a “former don” with multiple convictions, Jamaican law-enforcement officials have revealed.

Seven of the 14 persons apprehended by US authorities as they attempted to sneak into Florida late Thursday after a boat trip from The Bahamas have been identified as Jamaicans, local police officials have confirmed.

Deon Cooke, also known as ‘Boobie Skeng’, is the bespectacled man in handcuffs who told a Florida television station that he “really want to leave because no life is in Jamaica right now”, according to multiple police sources.

“Bare killing going on there, really want to leave. Want a better life,” the man, believed to be Cooke, said on video as he was being taken into custody.

But according to local law-enforcement sources, Boobie Skeng is a known enforcer who, in the past, wielded significant influence in the east Kingston community of Dunkirk and has at least two criminal convictions.

There are reports, too, that he was deported from the US.

“That guy is an ex-convict, gunman, top man from Dunkirk who has served more than one [prison] sentence in Jamaica,” one investigator told The Sunday Gleaner, indicating that the Police High Command is combing through records for additional information on Cooke.

The others named by police sources are Marvin Carridice, who was deported from the US on April 26, 2018 following convictions for murder and attempted murder; Renford Gordon, who was deported from the US on September 23, 2004 following a drug conviction; Ronaldo Foster; Ashley Dunston; and Julia Hemmings.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force declined comment for this story.

However, one veteran investigator told The Sunday Gleaner that since Cooke’s deportation, he has lost the clout he once wielded in his old stamping ground.

SEEKING ASYLUM

Investigators theorised, too, that by invoking Jamaica’s murder rate, Cooke was seeking to bolster his chances of obtaining asylum in the US.

Between January 1 and last Friday, Jamaica recorded 653 murders, 21 – or three per cent – more than for the comparative period last year, police statistics show.

“When he came back [to Jamaica], the thing (power he wielded) gone leff him so he is trying to get back inside the US. So, the argument weh him a put up ‘bout the killing, a asylum him a try fi get. But him can’t get asylum so. A prison him a go,” the investigator stated.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com