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Jamaica: “Criminal gangs said a great challenge to law enforcement in region”

ROSE HALL, St James — President of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP) Michael DeSilva has described the proliferation of criminal gangs in the region as the greatest challenge to law enforcement.

“…Across the Caribbean, gangs, gun violence and drug trafficking all go together, and they represent a common and significant threat to many of our local communities,” said DeSilva, head of the Bermuda Police Service.

He was addressing yesterday’s opening of the 33rd Annual General Meeting of the ACCP at the Montego Bay Convention Centre here in Rose Hall.

The Bermuda police chief, who noted that the per capita homicide rate in the Caribbean is higher than most parts of the world, said that this must be pushed back before it escalates into violent extremism.

“The Caribbean has a disproportionate number of homicides that outpaces most of the rest of the world. We must reverse this trend before local gang violence transcends into violent extremism,” DeSilva said.

The three-day conference is being held under the theme ‘An Integrated Approach Towards Serious and Organised Crime: Implications for Regional Growth and Development’.

Jamaica’s Security Minister Dr Horace Chang, in his addressing at the opening ceremony, said that the Caribbean, “wedged between North America and Latin America”, is a gateway for criminal activities.

“It’s easy to get from Latin America into North America; its the logical route. But while it provides opportunities for our economies, it provides huge challenges as there are opportunities for those who are involved in illegitimate activities,” Dr Chang argued.

Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Edmund Bartlett, who pointed out the value of tourism to countries in the Caribbean, said the industry is “susceptible to major disruptions”.

“There is a creeping volcano and rumbling sounds of insecurity that [are] pervading our Caribbean space,“ said the tourism minister.

“These rumblings are not only in Jamaica; they are in Trinidad, they are in St Kitts and Nevis, and they are in The Bahamas, and they are now in Barbados and the British Virgin Islands,” said Bartlett.

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