Guns silenced as SOE calms western parishes
Much to the delight of major stakeholders in St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland, the three western parishes now under a state of public emergency (SOE), there has not been a single murder since the enhanced security measure was announced on April 30.
Montego Bay’s mayor, Councillor Homer Davis, who was unrelenting in his call for the resumption of the SOE, was an elated man when the WESTERN STAR spoke to him yesterday about the relative peace the region has been enjoying over the past six days.
“When the area is saturated with the security forces, it sends a shock to the perpetrators, which is what we want to see,” said Davis, who is a former policeman. “It is a very good thing that we have not had any more murders since the start of the SOE because one life lost is one life too many.”
Brutal criminal siege
In the lead-up to the SOE announcement, the three parishes were under a brutal criminal siege, with marauding gunmen killing and maiming with impunity.
Between January and March, the region recorded close to 100 murders; St James – 40, Westmoreland -34, Hanover – nine and Trelawny – eight.
Westmoreland Custos Reverend Hartley Perrin, who had been calling for a special SOE intervention in that parish, is also happy.
However, unlike the situation in St James last year, where gangsters went underground and resurfaced after the SOE, he wants the violence producers to be caught and punished via the justice system.
“Those implicated in murders and other serious crimes must face justice,” said Perrin. “I don’t want to see a situation where they are allowed to wait out the SOE and then start the violence again when it is over.”
The security forces have arrested several wanted men and other persons of interest since the start of the SOE. Several guns, including a rifle, have been seized.
In one operation in St James, more than 1,000 rounds of assorted ammunition were seized. When the first SOE was declared in St James in 2018, several top gangsters, including members of the notorious Ratty gang, fled the parish.
Some, including gang leader Ryan ‘Ratty’ Peterkin, were killed in the parishes in which they sought safe haven. Others like Nico ‘Bowza’ Samuels returned but were subsequently killed.