Almost 10,000 people have been murdered in Jamaica between 2010 and 2017, with 1,617 last year. These were the result not only of robbery and gang wars, but of a blind rage that has led to killings for trivial reasons. Paradoxically, over the past two years the number of thefts, armed robberies and rapes has fallen by about 20 percent. The hair-raising gang wars are now long gone, after the decades in which the One Order and Klansman gangs had engaged in what was nothing short of ethnic cleansing as they vied with each other for the monopoly on extortion in Spanish Town, “Spain” for locals.
After the arrest of their historic members, today the old gangs seem to be fractured and without a clear leader. Even Dudus Coke, the legendary cocaine boss and leader of the Shower Posse gang, is now ancient history, after the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood he used to rule over as his personal fiefdom was leveled by army mortars during the uprising of his underlings defending him in May 2010. Now he is serving 23 years in a maximum-security US prison.
Nevertheless, during the first three weeks of January, 135 people lost their lives, many because of quarrels over small sums of money or other petty reasons. According to the statistics of the daily Jamaica Observer, Montego Bay, a town visited by around two million tourists a year, has become not only the most violent city on the island, but the most violent one on the planet, with 255 homicides out of a population of 111,000. This was one world record that Jamaica could have done without.