Jamaican gangsters are believed to have fled the island to other Caribbean and Latin American states in a bid to escape a security crackdown in western parishes, St James divisional police chief Superintendent Vernon Ellis has said.
A state of emergency (SOE) was imposed in St James, Westmoreland, and Hanover on April 30 in response to a spike in murders and other violent crimes.
“A number of the men who have fled our jurisdiction have been killed overseas and their bodies returned to Jamaica for burial,” said Ellis. “Because of the sustained pressure that we are putting on them through the SOE, many are fleeing the island by boat because they dread being caught and locked up.”
St James gangster Shaniel Luton, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia in 2015 after he escaped police custody while awaiting sentence for a double murder, is believed to have been killed gangland-style in Haiti two weeks ago, The Gleaner has learnt.
“Based on the information that has come to us, we believe with a high degree of certainty that it is him,” said Ellis, commander of the St James police. “We are working closely with our Haitian counterparts on this one. We have seen pictures, but we are awaiting confirmation by DNA.”
According to Ellis, Luton had been flagged as a principal player in the illegal guns-for-drugs trade between Jamaica and northeastern neighbours Haiti.
“Our intelligence has picked up that Luton and a number of other gangsters fled the island after the declaration of the tri-parish state of public emergency, which covered St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland,” said Ellis. “Our information is that some went to Costa Rica and others went to Haiti.”
The St James police chief is also probing word that another most wanted suspect, Odane ‘Squeeze’ Brown, was recently murdered in Costa Rica.
Delano ‘Prekeh’ Wilmot, who is also on the St James police’s most wanted list for murders and shootings, including ambushing a Jamaica Defence Force patrol and shooting three soldiers, is also believed to be in Haiti.