MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – A man believed to be one of Jamaica’s 12 most wanted criminals was fatally shot and three others taken into custody following a police-military operation at Rosemount Gardens in Montego Bay late Sunday.
Up to press time, there was no official disclosure of the deceased man’s identity, but The Gleaner understands that he is Gerado ‘Rado’ Taylor, one of the island’s most notorious outlaws. A reward of $1 million was offered for each of the men.
Three illegal firearms – a rifle and two handguns – were allegedly recovered.
The security operation was launched as the island nation of 3.7 million tries to grapple with the murder of more than 1,400 persons, including 20 policemen. Last week, Security Minister Derrick Smith announced the establishment of a task force in the western city to quell a wave of violence which has seen 177 murders in the parish of St. James.
Meanwhile, more than 30 persons were detained during a joint police-military operation at an entertainment show in Montego Bay early yesterday morning. Over 1,500 patrons at Reggae Fever were searched before being allowed to exit the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre. Several knives were recovered.
Alan Ranks, master of ceremonies at the show, told The Gleaner, “The police said that due to the crime and violence in the region over the past couple of days, the parishes of St. James and Westmoreland are under curfew.
“My understanding is that they were supposed to lock it (the music) off at 2:00 a.m., but were lenient until shortly before 5:00 a.m.”
The tide of blood that has swept St. James, home parish to Jamaica’s tourist capital Montego Bay, has shown no sign of abatement, with recorded homicides in 2007 surpassing last year’s figures.
Police statistics indicate that 177 persons have been killed in St. James since January, seven more than the total number recorded in 2006. Seventy-five of the homicides, or 42 per cent, have been cleared up. Three policemen were also gunned down by criminals between November 8 and last Saturday.
The motives included: 95 gang-related; 60 from other criminal acts; eight each for domestic and drug-related reasons, while no motive has been established for six of the homicides.
The three-month-old Golding administration has struggled to come to grips with the national crime wave which surged during the 18-year reign of the previous People’s National Party government.
“For the last two months, we’ve been very concerned about a spike in murders in St. James, and in Montego Bay in particular, and, of course, this culminates with the murder of policemen over the last two weeks,” Security Minister Derrick Smith told journalists in Montego Bay last Monday.
“We are satisfied that with just some requests for limited resources, which we hope to have brought down here in the shortest possible time, the team that is on the ground here in St. James, along with the task force – set up today and working with the team here – the situation in St. James will not only be stabilised, but will be brought under control in the shortest possible time,” Smith said.
At least four policemen have been murdered in the last two weeks.