SOLYMONE BLOG

THE FLOW OF AMERICAN GUNS FUEL JAMAICAN GANGSTERS WARS

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Ships from Miami steam into Jamaica's main harbor loaded with TV sets and blue jeans. But some of the most popular U.S. imports never appear on the manifests: handguns, rifles and bullets that stoke one of the world's highest murder rates.
  • The volume is much less than the flow of U.S. guns into Mexico that end up in the hands of drug cartels. Jamaican authorities recover fewer than 1,000 firearms a year.
  • But of those whose origin can be traced, 80 percent come from the U.S., Jamaican law Jamaicans fear even more firearms will reach the gangs whose turf wars plague the island of 2.8 million people.
  • "It's going to push a lot of that trade back toward the Caribbean like it was back in the '80s," said Vance Callender, an attache at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • U.S. authorities are beginning to target the Jamaican gun-smuggling network as part of a broad effort to boost security in the Caribbean.
  • But they have a long way to go. Jamaican authorities have confiscated only 100 guns coming into ports in the last five years, along with 6,000 rounds of ammunition. That in turn is just a fraction of the 700 or so weapons confiscated on the streets each year.
  • Authorities know they're only seeing "the tip of the iceberg," said Mark Shields, Jamaica's deputy police commissioner.
  • With arsenals to rival police firepower, the gangs are blamed for 90 percent of the homicides in Jamaica — 1,611 last year, about 10 times more than the U.S. rate, relative to population.
  • X-ray scanners were installed two years ago at Jamaican ports, but the gangs use bribery and intimidation to get their shipments past inspectors.
Courtesy: AP
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