Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has identified five of what he describes as “associational groupings with criminal activity” across St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
“It is evident, as matters are emerging, there is an associational grouping with criminal activity in the constituency of East St. George. I’m not saying the particular area,” Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security, said at a press conference in Kingstown on Tuesday.
“There are three associational groupings of criminal activity in what I would call the Kingstown conurbation and in that, I include Ottley Hall, come over Edinboro, Sharpes, all the way round. … And there is one, clearly, in the South Leeward constituency,” Gonsalves said while speaking about the crime situation in the country.
He was speaking in the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in SVG, which saw eight persons shot and injured in Diamond Saturday night.
One of the shooting victims, Gregory “Woody” Abraham, aka “Pecker”, 33, died at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital on Monday.
Gonsalves said that these “associational groupings” are engaged in competition and that there are different bases for competitions between these groups.
“Police also have advised that one or more of these associational groupings, from time to time, hire criminal persons outside of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to carry out actions against one or the other in these associational groupings.
“I hear sometimes people on the street would say, ‘That killing dey sound so professional.’ Ordinary people, you know. And other would have less of a mark of professionalism about it.”
The prime minister said he happens to know that the police and Immigration authorities in SVG, the region, and elsewhere share information about criminal personalities who are not homegrown and come into SVG, as well as those from SVG who go elsewhere to commit crime.
“I give the assurance that I will continue to work with the legal system, to strengthen the prosecution service, things which we are supposed to do,” he said.
Gonsalves further stated that his government has built a prison to deal with punishment and rehabilitation.
“[The] education revolution is also an anticrime measure; seeking to create jobs, trying to deal with things with parenting,” he said, adding that persons who are attending school and take their education seriously, as well as those who are in Cadets, or Scouting, or go to church, enrolled in the Pan Against Crime programme, sports and culture, generally don’t end up before the courts.
“These associational groups, which have eruptions of criminal violence that they have tended to kill one another and occasionally, as we saw in this particular case, innocent people got shot,” he said, referring to Saturday’s shooting at Diamond.
“So all of these multiple things which we are doing is directed to show the seriousness of addressing this matter, so you can access the responsibility, how I carry out my responsibility as to things which are being done,” Gonsalves said.