Like many other countries, Jamaica faces extreme poverty, which has left its citizens turning to street crimes and drug trafficking. Statistics suggest over 250 gangs operate in various parts of Jamaica. Their presence has created a dynamic of power, money, and violence.
Prosecutors in Jamaica have revealed that a gang known as Klansman has taken control of a burial site in Spanish Town, St Catherine. The gang members include 33 members. They are on trial for a criminal organization, murder, arson, extortion, and illegal possession of firearms. They all have pleaded not guilty.
The case is crucial to the police and National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), because it provides insight into Jamaica’s infamous gangs and how they operate.
Some members of Klansman have branched off into a gang called One Don Gang. And reports are that some members have connections with police, bureaucrats, and politicians. Andre “Blackman” Bryan is said to be the leader of the One Don gang. During court testimony, a witness who worked as a driver in the gang stated Bryan laughed when he ordered two of his men to murder a vendor.
Another witness said Bryan became upset after learning that two other countries’ murder rates were higher than his county.
“This is a landmark trial for several reasons. It involves the most defendants ever to be tried simultaneously under a single indictment in Jamaica’s history. It reveals grim details about the evolution of gangs in Jamaica and of their leaders, such as Andre Bryan, alias “Blackman,” of the One Don Gang.” Before this case, the “Blackman” was tried along with the Klansman Tesha Miller, but both were exonerated.
As the trial, which started in September of this year, has moved forward, shocking developments were unveiled when prosecutors said Stephanie Christie was reportedly tied to Bryan.
Christie, a trained pastor, has been accused of “business affairs” and having connections with the police, in which she might have manipulated them by seeking specific information about the gang. She faces charges of a criminal organization and facilitates other crimes, such as arson and conspiracy to murder.
“Christie was described by witnesses as a fixer who could help smooth over legal troubles.” According to a witness quoted by news website Loop News, Christie “would communicate with the police if there is a problem with gangsters, and go to the police to find out the nature of the problem.”
The gang members are being tried under the anti-gang legislation in the Home Circuit Court under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations Act), 2014.
(NIB) said criminal gangs and drug trafficking have increased in size and sophistication in how they carry out their acts. In 2010, over 80% of Jamaican gangs were considered low-scale, whose actions involved street crimes and minor thefts. But as conditions worsened in Jamaica, the growth of gangs expanded, which opened the door for increased horrific acts.
Recently, the Jamaican government adopted an anti-gang policy under the plan to secure Jamaica. The national security ministry stated their goal was to strengthen their justice system, security infrastructure, and develop social and economic protection of the country.