In the wake of Tuesday's deadly shootings in Grange Hill, Westmoreland, which left seven persons dead, Police Commissioner Antony Anderson has revealed that 13 persons have since been arrested following a police operation in the area.
The nation's top cop gave the update during a brief press conference yesterday at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on the fourth and final day of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP) 33rd Annual General Meeting.
"A series of operations began this morning (Thursday), targeting violent criminals and also their facilitators, who have been funding these criminal organisations. Since this morning, we have detained 94 persons and arrested 13 persons who have been wanted for various criminal activities within Westmoreland," said Anderson. "We have also recovered an AK-47 rifle and assorted ammunition."
The 13 persons placed under arrest are said to be members of the Dexter Street gang, which has been locked in a bloody feud with the Darling Street gang, both based in Westmoreland. The detainees are expected to be transported to Kingston for processing.
Earlier this week, the nation was rocked by the news that seven persons were killed and several others injured in two separate shooting incidents in the Grange Hill area.
"This initiative we have taken goes beyond merely the persons pulling the trigger, but also involves looking for those people who are behind them," Anderson stated. "It is going to be our mode of operation going forward."
Yesterday, police personnel from Westmoreland, under the supervision of the parish's commanding officer, Superintendent Gary McKenzie, visited the three main affected areas of Top Lincoln, King's Valley, and Sterling to assure residents that no efforts would be spared to protect them. He also encouraged them to tell what they knew about the marauding gangsters.
In the wake of Tuesday's bloody attacks, some residents of the rural districts fled the area yesterday, citing their fear of reprisals.
"After what we experienced on Tuesday night, I would be very stupid to stay here," said a female resident, who was awaiting transportation to leave the area yesterday. "It is nice to see more police and soldiers, but I am sure they won't be here forever."
The Westmoreland police are now actively hunting five alleged gangsters, who have been linked to killings and shootings in Grange Hill. The men, who range in ages from 23 years old to 49 years old, have been identified as Burton 'Bap' Shearer, Isaiah 'Cat' Perry, Richard 'Brutus' Hamilton, Aldane 'Fishy' Hamilton and Jeffrey 'Boogie' Ramdas.
"We have reasons to believe that these men are armed and dangerous. So, no one should harbour them at their home," a senior policeman warned. "We are also urging the resident to look out for strange men as we believe that a number of gangsters from outside the community have been recruited by [local] gangs.