Top cop blasts rap and USA guns

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Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Commissioner David Baines took issue with US gun rights and the proliferation of rap music at a regional governance and business conference held in Cayman last week.

Mr. Baines, who took over as Cayman’s top cop in June 2009, warned the attendees at the Northern Caribbean Conference on Economic Cooperation that on-going US enforcement activities at the Texas-Mexico border would likely have some significant affect on drug trafficking in the Caribbean.

“The consequences of US success in Mexico…will directly force lucrative drug trade and the associated gangs to revisit their traditional transit routes and, may I suggest, place the Caribbean at risk of an escalating turf war as transit routes through our region are of necessity increasingly used,” the commissioner said.

He said that certain media commentaries – he referenced the Economist magazine – had opined that Caribbean police forces were being overwhelmed by “well armed gangs, international drug traffickers, and systemic corruption” and were not capable of dealing with the increased threat.

“Quite rightly, such commentary rankles our communities with its suggestion that the answer lies in the recruitment of law enforcement professionals from the countries of the developed world,” Mr. Baines said, who is a 30-year veteran UK lawman. “The irony of my saying that is not lost on me.”

The commissioner pointed out that the same developed countries had not been able to stem the illicit guns and drugs trade despite having numerous law enforcement agencies and “unparalleled funding”.

The problem is a regional one, he said. The effects of crime are not bottled up on one Caribbean island and when one country starts to get a handle on its organised crime elements those individuals often start looking for a better place to operate. “They will migrate to safer locales to continue their criminality,” Mr. Baines said, adding that the need for law enforcement agencies to act regionally had never been more evident.

Commissioner Baines actually pointed to the United States as the chief suspect in indirectly arming criminal gangs operating in the Caribbean and Central America.

Mr. Baines said more than 60,000 guns that originated from the US were recovered in Mexico over the past four years, for instance.

“The prevalence of weaponry and the unrestricted sales of weapons – particularly within the second hand market within the US – is now being exploited to secure large numbers [of weapons], which are smuggled to our region and emerge within the criminal element,” Mr. Baines said. “I have no interest in seeking to comment upon the national politics and the laws…of the US citizens and their constitution. However, at an international level – and specifically here in the Caribbean – the constitutional right to bear arms in the United States is directly contributing to the denial of the right to life for young men in the Caribbean.” Mr. Baines also said that rap music had played its own part in the Caribbean gangs and drugs culture. He actually applauded efforts in some countries to prevent certain acts from travelling there to perform.

“I’m quite happy with those countries who are banning your pop stars who would want to spread the murder, mayhem rap and going around as if it is normal, appropriate, sensible,” he said. “The more people that we stop travelling around our region and actually collectively state, ‘that’s not our value for our communities’.”

Mr. Baines’ office later clarified that statement.

“The question had been raised about the influences of Caribbean music,” the statement from RCIPS read. “Mr. Baines had stated that there are many aspects of Caribbean music that should be celebrated – however there is one element of the music which is unhelpful; that element being the glorification of gun crime, murder and mayhem. You’ll recall that during the recent gun amnesty the RCIPS made similar comment about the influence such music has on our young people.”

Individual police services in some Caribbean countries were being beaten down in their response to crime as corruption and the collapse of governance structures leaves fertile ground for the proliferation of criminal gangs, Mr. Baines said.

“If we are to combat the threat, it is no longer sufficient to rely on….single departments or units, be they police or military,” Mr. Baines said. “The threat is such that alignments…by governments, judicial, police, military and civil society are absolutely essential…to prevent organised crime gangs from establishing a base in our communities. It will require nations to act collectively, to operate regionally and not locally.”

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Mr. Baines
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2 COMMENTS

  1. I will let others tackle the rap music comments but the illegal firearms trade is one with which I am familar.

    We should start off with the fact that Mr Baines statement that more than 60,000 guns that originated from the US were recovered in Mexico over the past four years is being vigorously challenged in the USA. I accept it is an official figure but it has to remembered that it doesnt tally with actual recorded sales of weapons seized and it also comes from an agency whose ability to manipulate data is well documented. The bottom line is that over 2000 weapons are allegedly passing over through the border each week but theres absolutely no hard evidence (such as substantial arms seizures by customs officers on either side) that this is happening. The numbers also have to be taken in the context of the fact that in the vast majority of cases no attempt was ever made to trace weapons seized back to their source before they were destroyed, although I understand that policy may be changing.

    These figures are nothing new, between 2000 and 2006 over 250,000 illegal weapons were seized and destroyed in Mexico – thats about 40,000 a year. If anything, the rate of seizure has reduced in recent years.

    The second problem with the figures is that there are much easier ways to obtain the military weapons Mr Baines referred to than smuggling them in from the USA. I understand that his comments included reference to heavy caliber machine guns, most of which are not available for general sale even in Texas. Similarly the sale of other fully-automatic weapons such as AK47s, which figure in much of the drug-related violence but whose import into the USA has been banned since 1986, are controlled by BATF – ironically, one of the agencies who produced the 60,000 figure.

    Information I have is that seizures of arms in Mexico included hand grenades and other explosive devices, which definitely didnt come from the USA, along with miltary weapons allegedly sourced from within Mexico itself and Romanian fully-automatic weapons that were manufactured well after their import into the USA was banned.

    If you take a look at a map of the Caribbean region, right in the middle is Cuba – who have in the past supplied virtually unlimited quantities of military hardware to countries like Nicaraguga and Grenada, these in turn ended up in the hands of guerrillas or on the open market. As an example of the latter, nearly 20 years ago Cuban-supplied AK47s were turning up in the hands of Bahamamian drug dealers.

    Just to confuse things, Central America also benefited (sic!) from US moves to counter Cuban influence in a number of internal conflicts with Soviet-made (rather than US-made) weapons being supplied to anti-leftist factions in attempts to ensure deniablity. Many of these are probably still around.

    For years Panama has also been a source of weapons from the former Soviet Bloc, with Colombian drug cartels being amongst the benficiaries. The Romanian weapons destined for the Mexican drug dealers came (and possibly still come) through this same route.

    Now Venezuela is importing large quantities of miltary hardware, some of which will inevitably end up in the wrong hands.

    Like everything else, it is often simple to (and in this case politically convenient to) take the easy option and blame the USA for all the regions woes but things are never that straightforward.

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  2. Mr. Baines,

    Highly trained individuals do not mean or include more UK police! They do not even carry weapons in England and they are always getting the daylight beat out of them even in a local pub! There the Caribbean such as Cayman would be an ideal haven as a prime target for these dangerous and lawless ones that have no regard for even the US Boarder Patrol who are militarily and highly trained!

    So I guess you need to have 6 pairs of eyes and binoculars as well and begin to realize that you will even have to tap the highest officials residence inorder to SECURE OUR BOARDERS!
    Highly trained individuals means exactly what it says
    Like: US veterans who were trained in the US military or US coastguard?

    UK police can not handle these breed of criminals in our territory, sorry Mr. Baines but I am not convinced. If you cant handle these home grown criminals that have RCIP and people in our community running scared how are you going to handle the Mexican Cartels running here from the US? These people are not just cartels and corporate drugdealers they are ASSASSINS!

    How are our little weaponless RCIP going to apprehend a highly trained ASSASIN?! Huh?!

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