The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is investigating whether a string of armed robberies is linked to a recent spate of drug seizures made on Grand Cayman.
Five armed heists occurred around Grand Cayman within six days between July 5 and July 10. Three businesses, a public bus and a resident walking in a heavily traveled tourist area numbered among the victims.
Just a few weeks prior, police and customs officers seized 689 pounds of ganja in two marine operations that occurred on June 19 and June 23. Seven suspects were arrested in the operations.
Successive police raids on Watercourse Road in West Bay on June 28 and 29 also turned up more ganja and cocaine, as well as $220,000 cash that was stored in a cardboard box.
“Some of the success we’ve had in drugs recently has created cash shortages for some of these people,” Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said Monday.
“[The suspects] would have invested up front in terms of bringing drugs to the island,” Mr. Byrne said. “We’ve had quite a bit of success recently and that would have cost them. Now we have people trying to make money and continue the cycle, we suspect.”
Mr. Byrne was quick to point out that those statements represented an operating premise or theory based on police intelligence sources. He said he did not wish to infer by the statements that anyone or everyone arrested in connection with the recent robberies was involved in the illegal drugs trade.
However, he said, enough information is available to police at the moment to pursue a further investigation. “This is information we’re trying to develop,” he said.
As far as links between the five robberies earlier this month, Mr. Byrne said police are considering the possibility. Two of the robberies involved properties owned by the same company, Al La Kebab, and two of the incidents happened on the same night within an hour of each other.
Four of the five incidents involved armed suspects and, in the one case that did not, the victim was beaten and stabbed.
The criminal groups involved in these incidents might be considered gangs, Mr. Byrne said, but they are not really “organized” crime.
“It looks like we have two or three little gangs operating,” he said. “We wouldn’t call them an organized crime gang … they’re just loosely formed groups of people who are getting into a car and going out and committing robberies.”
Whether police are able to draw any conclusion about the robbery-drug shipment link or not, police records show robberies are going up so far in 2018.
Through July 11, there had been a total of 24 robberies reported in the Cayman Islands this year.
For all of 2017, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service reported 31 robberies on Grand Cayman.
George Town businesses and residents have suffered the most from holdups so far this year, with a total of 17 crimes committed since the beginning of the year in Grand Cayman’s largest district.