Drugs fuel island’s dark side

Jade Fell

In 2009 – with an average of 63 murders per 100,000 people – Jamaica had the third highest murder rate in the world. The following year, police efforts following the surrender of one of Jamaica’s most powerful drug lords, Christopher M. Coke, saw the murder rate fall to 40 per 100,000. Jamaican authorities suggested that Coke’s surrender assisted in breaking up gun and drug networks, which allowed the country to work on longer-term projects including community policing and violence reduction. The murder rate has continued to fall in the years following this – in the first half of 2013 there was a six per cent reduction in murders compared to the same period in 2012. 

However, rising levels of violence this summer are threatening to undo the work that has been achieved over the last three years. National statistics reported 251 homicides between 30 June and 31 August, an average of four a day, compared to an average of 2.9 during the first half of the year. The island is also infamous for its high incidence of violent homophobic acts. On 28 August, a 41-year-old man was stabbed to death in a homophobic attack before having his house set on fire with his body still inside.




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