The Jamaica government says gangs are the number one cause of murders and violent crimes in the country presently and it is proving to be arduous process
in apprehending and prosecuting gang members as well as the challenges to bringing about successful prosecutorial outcomes
National Security Minister Dr. Horace Chang in a statement to Parliament on anti-gang measures, recalled an earlier statement in which he spoke of the systematic, well financed, and structurally complex nature of the gangs operating here at present.
'I would have also pointed out that many of these gangs were being financed by persons residing outside of Jamaica, but who have established themselves as dons in different communities across the island. Criminals who are involved in transnational criminal activity can be difficult to prosecute,' he added.
He told Parliament on Tuesday that the data suggests that as at August of this year, there were 381 gangs responsible for perpetrating the 'most heinous crimes locally and also mobilizing trans-national criminal activities.
'The rationale for the increasing number of gangs has been tied to several internal feuds among gangs across police divisions, resulting in splits and several factions of the parent gang being recognized as separate gangs.'
He said the key factors that have contributed to gang splits include increased access to firearms and ammunition and increased sources of funds independent of gang activity.
Chang said that while police intelligence facilitates the identification of the local members and oftentimes international leaders of these gangs, the grounds for their apprehension and prosecution requires actionable intelligence, the appropriate legislative framework, and relevant bilateral and international arrangements, within which to ensure they can be tried and convicted.
'Information must be converted to evidence and linkages between members clearly established,' he said, noting that 'this process takes time.
'Just the process of gathering the intelligence and converting that into evidence is a very involved process that may take several months, even years, before it is concluded. While the police can and does lay charges to individual suspects, the greater challenge has to do with connecting these individual charges, tying them together, in order to make a case under the Anti-gang legislation.'
He said witness management is another crucial aspect of this process that can have direct impact and...