Prime Minister Andrew Holness left the island for Washington on Tuesday to hold talks with the relevant authorities in the United States in a bid to get better cooperation on identifying and dealing with individuals in the North American country who continue to influence crime and violence in Jamaica.
Holness said his visit is to “start the process of getting a more intense cooperation in treating with the foreign actors in our local crime – those dons, those who have migrated overseas that in this (Christmas) season they will be sending the bag of rice and all the other goodies in the barrel, but secreted in that bag of rice, wrapped up in that blanket will be a gun or ammunition or parts thereof”.
He was speaking at a press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister duing which he announced the declaration of eight states of emergency to address an uptick in criminality since the enhanced security measure last expired on November 29 after two weeks, having failed to get the support of the parliamentary Opposition for a longer extension.
The prime minister cautioned those receiving such packages over the Yuletide season that it was “not for your benefit but to give to a youngster to kill”.
And for those sending the weapons, he said: “They can’t feel that they’re free to influence, direct, solicit, and finance crime in Jamaica so I head to Washington to have meetings with Justice Department, the FBI and other entities there”.
Holness warned those overseas that he was serious about bringing an end to their criminal activities.
“You’re overseas and you’re sponsoring, directing, soliciting, or financing crime in Jamaica, we’re going to get you,” he stated.
The prime minister said his visit was “part of building the capacity to treat with the crime that exists, without having to resort to emergency powers”.
And, rubbishing claims that his government does not have a crime plan, Holness said the administration was proceeding on two fronts:
to increase capacity, including the building of police stations, procuring more motor vehicles for the security forces, improving the border control capacity of the Jamaica Defence Force, and, generally, procuring more equipment than any other administration in history.increasing the numbers and capabilities of the security forces by way of training.
“We have a comprehensive plan secure Jamaica, which will ensure a defence for Jamaica from any threat,” said Holness, while declaring that no other government has taken the steps to ensure Jamaica’s cybersecurity than his Jamaica Labour Party administration.
“I want Jamaicans to be assured of what we’re doing. The situation did not arise yesterday. It is 30 years in the making; 30 years of lack of investment and unsophisticated approaches to our national security,” he said on Tuesday.