By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, October 6, 2022 – For the first time since an explosion of violence began in the Turks and Caicos in the month of September citizens of the islands have been afforded the courtesy of being truly clued in to the reasons fueling the war they have been forced to endure.
“It is related to Jamaican gangs and serious transnational crime — it remains ongoing and it will not stop unless we stop it,” said Nigel Dakin, TCI Governor in his second ever address to the House of Assembly on Monday.
“It” as Dakin described is a complicated turf war fueled by a power vacuum, created all the way back in the first quarter of this year.
“Several months ago two local gangs lost their leadership. One extremely violent local gang leader was shot dead while resisting arrest, another Haitian gang leader who the police and tried on four different occasions to arrest in the shanty areas of Rumi Yard was killed by one of his own gang before he could be arrested.”
Dakin said the power vacuum that these two killings created allowed a native Jamaican gang that previously had very little footprint in the TCI that had also been targeting the Haitian gang leader to step in. The days of shooting and violence in Five Cays in April were as a result of this new struggle for power.
That Jamaican gang has since expanded and with the backing of ‘military grade’ weapons they set out to eliminate those whom they believe are the local competition for drugs and arms snuggling. That presumed local competition is in turn fighting back, and according to Dakin the resulting war is responsible for the ‘vast majority’ of September’s wave of violence which has spilled over into October.
“Not everyone killed has been involved in crime—But it is also true that many who have been murdered have been linked to criminality And a spiral of reprisal killings to avenge innocent as well as criminal victims has been the result.”
Dakin said that it pushed the police into a war he admits they were wholly unprepared for.
He said police presence after the initial double murders had forced the gang to take up residence in Duck Yard and when they tried to root them out police came under fire. The police have not managed to hold on to any of the criminals yet.
In response to consistent questions of why the police have not been able to arrest a single perpetrator of these events Dakin claimed some of them, knowing that they are targets have left the islands, some he said who were murderers have been murdered themselves and others have slipped away through illegal channels like fast boats.
He reiterated that the unwillingness of victims to speak to the police has hampered investigations as even though judgments have been made some people are refusing to give evidence.
He gave a ‘reality check’ as he described it to those criticszing the police saying that visiting UK officers had confirmed
“There is no county force in the UK many of them three times the size of our own that could start to tackle an armed and violent cross county let alone transnational threat off the scale we now face.”
Dakin maintained that the police force was holding up under extraordinary pressure and the people in the Islands “should be very proud of them”
He stressed that the island and government could either be divided or unified in this situation and urged Members of the House of Assembly, to be unified.