Mas­sive gun find

Po­lice seize huge Haiti arms ship­ment des­tined for Ja­maica

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Livern Bar­rett Se­nior Gleaner Writer

AN ARSE­NAL of close to 100 brand-new high­pow­ered firearms and hun­dreds of as­sorted am­mu­ni­tion were con­fis­cated by the po­lice in Haiti just over a week ago, and Ja­maican law-en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties have in­di­cated that sev­eral of them were des­tined for Ja­maica’s crim­i­nal un­der­world.

In a pho­to­graph ob­tained ex­clu­sively by The Gleaner, Haitian po­lice and mil­i­tary per­son­nel were seen in­spect­ing sev­eral of the weapons, which in­cluded au­to­matic ri­fles and hand­guns.

Ja­maica’s po­lice chief Dr Carl Wil­liams has re­vealed that the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force (JCF) has taken “great in­ter­est” in the arms find, even as he lauded the Haitian po­lice for the seizure.

“That’s not some­thing that we can take credit for, but we are very happy about the seizure be­cause it is very pos­si­ble that many of those weapons would have ended up here in Ja­maica,” Wil­liams told The Gleaner yes­ter­day.

Fears that the weapons were headed for lo­cal shores, ac­cord­ing to Wil­liams and other top lawen­force­ment insiders, were fu­elled by re­ports from the Haitian po­lice that they were con­fis­cated in an area fre­quented by crim­i­nals in­volved in the guns-for-drugs trade be­tween Ja­maica and its Caribbean neigh­bour.

“We know that that is one of the

points from which weapons are shipped to Ja­maica,” the po­lice com­mis­sioner said.

Wil­liams in­di­cated that he saw pho­tographs of the arms cache and ac­knowl­edged that the amount was sig­nif­i­cant.

“It is a whole lot a weapons. I saw the pho­tographs and there were a lot of weapons,” he em­pha­sised.

“Based on our ex­pe­ri­ence, they look to be brand new, and some of them were in pack­ages.”

Since the start of the year, 919 mur­ders were recorded across the 19 po­lice di­vi­sions is­land­wide up to Sep­tem­ber 23, an in­crease of 2.6 per cent when com­pared with the 896 mur­ders recorded over the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod last year.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, close to 60 per cent of those killings in­volved the use of guns.

LOT­TERY SCAM TO BE BLAMED

In ad­di­tion, po­lice statis­tics show that since Jan­uary 1, just over 200 mur­ders were recorded in St James alone, the sec­ond straight year that the parish has sur­passed the 200-mur­der mark. St Cather­ine recorded 147 mur­ders, while the Claren­don po­lice have re­ported 107 killings so far this year.

As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice War­ren Clarke, head of the Area Four Po­lice, has blamed the deadly lot­tery scam and the guns-for-drug trade for the pro­lif­er­a­tion of guns, not only in St James, but across the coun­try, which he said play a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in the crime wave.

Clarke, who was speak­ing dur­ing an in­ter­view with a Gleaner spe­cial as­sign­ment team that vis­ited Mon­tego Bay re­cently, said pur­chas­ing firearms has be­come the first or­der of busi­ness for per­sons in­volved in lot­tery scam­ming.

“When they have the pro­ceeds of scam­ming or drug traf­fick­ing, a gun seems to be the first item they equip them­selves with, and be­cause there are so much pro­ceeds flow­ing from th­ese il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties, then there are a lot of guns and am­mu­ni­tion that go with them,” he rea­soned.

Clarke added, “I ac­cept that

there are more il­le­gal guns in St James than we are com­fort­able.”

CON­TRIB­UTED

An arse­nal of close to 100 brand-new high-pow­ered firearms and hun­dreds of as­sorted am­mu­ni­tion were seized by the po­lice in Haiti.

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