Cops clamping down on permits - gangsters using parties for illegal activities
In a bid not to give inadvertent support to persons involved in criminal activities, the police hierarchy in Westmoreland has revamped its policy in regard to the granting of permits for social events.
According to Senior Superintendent of Police Egbert Parkins, who heads the Westmoreland Police Division, the police are now quite selective in their granting of permits for stage shows and parties as, based on intelligence, criminals are using these events to 'clean up' ill-gotten funds and settle gang conflicts.
"It is important for us to understand this partying thing ... A lot of these persons who are applying for permits are members of gangs and scamming groups," he said.
Parkins, nicknamed 'Ground God' because of his no-nonsense approach to policing, said the police "cannot allow these gangsters and scammers to legitimise their ill-gotten gains or to make more money so that they can use it to buy ammunition and firearms, to control communities or to buy witnesses."
However, much to the chagrin of the police, even the legitimate events where the promoters have been properly checked out and deemed to be of sound standing, are now under the microscope as criminal gangs are now preying on these events.
"The gangs sometimes aligned themselves to different entertainers ... so the music becomes a part of the conflict," said Parkins. "Sometimes a song is played for one side and it upset the other side so much that it ends up in shootings and murders."
Interestingly, Westmoreland is home to party hotspot Negril, which has become one of the favourite stomping grounds for lottery scammers, who have become too fearful of partying in Montego Bay, the current 'murder capital'.
The scammers have now become entrenched in Westmoreland, which is now a hotbed of criminal activities with some 77 murders since the start of the year.
According to Parkins, the 16 active criminal gangs in the parish are responsible for approximately 58 per cent of the murders.