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(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — The security forces believe they have finally weakened the notorious King Valley gang, which has been driving fear into residents of this and nearby parishes.
Several members of the criminal outfit were picked up yesterday morning during a joint operation between the Jamaica Defence Force and Jamaica Constabulary Force in the district of Peggy Barry here in Grange Hill, Westmoreland.
Police said 56 people were arrested in what was a well-planned joint operation. Among them were nine ‘persons of interest’ were escorted to the Kingston to be processed. This included seven men, six of whom are members of the King Valley gang, and two women who are involved with gang members.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey, the officer in charge of the Counter-Terrorism and Organized Crime (C-TOC) Branch, told reporters yesterday that the police are committed to going wherever criminals are and wherever the evidence leads, suggesting that police had over time, been collecting evidence before the final assault early yesterday morning on the King Valley gang.
The operation, according to ACP Bailey, was not only to identify gang members but to disrupt the activities of criminals within that space and also to reassure the residents — many of whom had concerns about the operations of the gangsters. ACP Bailey said the police are now hoping to see a reduction in criminal activities within that area following yesterday’s arrests.
According to ACP Bailey, 27 members of the Kings Valley gang have been identified and investigations will continue to ensure that other members of the gang are brought to justice. The C-TOC branch, said ACP Bailey, has no bias in terms of what it investigates. “It doesn’t matter who you are, whether you are police, you’re a pastor, you’re a politician, or just an ordinary citizen. Once we have the evidence, we intend to pursue it.”
ACP Bailey, meanwhile, noted that the issue of crime and violence is not a police matter but a societal matter, and stressed that both law enforcement and members of the society will have to play a role in eradicating crime.
Said he: “My message to the family of those involved in criminal activities is to try and encourage them to desist from their criminality. If you have been involved and you want to change your lifestyle, I would suggest that you identify a pastor or a justice of the peace or call us at C-TOC (876-967-1389). We will be willing to have a discussion with you to show you the pathway to escape a criminal lifestyle.”