Mobile, Lethal Caribbean
Gangsters Swamp UK

By Jason Bennetto
Crime Correspondent
The Independent - UK

Five years ago, the threat from Jamaican gangsters and black British-born crack dealers could have been dismissed as a local difficulty for a handful of inner-city police forces.
But today, as the most authoritative study into the threat reveals, Jamaican organised crime groups have infiltrated almost every part of the country.
The growth of violent Yardie crime - named after the Jamaican slang word for back yard - and offences committed by copycat black British gunmen has been identified as one of the biggest public order threats facing the police. A confidential report reveals that only seven of 43 forces in England and Wales believe they have yet to encounter "Caribbean" organised criminals. In Scotland, there are well-established crack dealers in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
The report, for the Caribbean gun crime group of the Association of Chief Police Officers, describes in detail the "alarming spread" of the Yardies, the techniques they use to avoid detection and gain a foothold in new territory and their willingness to use firearms. The study, based on information from police and national intelligence agencies, defines two categories of "Caribbean crime groups". The first is "those British-born groups that grow out of the established Caribbean communities, mainly in large cities. These tend to be more territorial and larger in terms of membership".
The second category is: "Jamaican groups generally smaller in number ... [they] have a greater tendency to be more mobile throughout the country."
The report continues: "While distinctions can be drawn between UK and Jamaican Caribbean groups, both engage in the supply of class A drugs, particularly crack, and share the same attitude to the easy use of violence and firearms." High-powered Mac10 machine-pistols are considered "prestige weapons", but "shotguns, self-loading pistols, reactivated and modified weapons all feature". Bryan McLeish, 31, of Winson Green, Birmingham, was given two life sentences in June last year for a Yardie double murder in a drugs feud. Godfrey Scott, 35, was gunned down outside his home and Ray Samuels, 32, was tied up, skinned and had his tongue cut out. A month earlier, a notorious Yardie was jailed for 12 years for kidnapping two men in north London and torturing them with a hammer, electric iron and boiling water.
Mark Lambie was jailed after his victims gave evidence, despite one of them having been shot, allegedly to stop him entering the witness box. Fellow gang-leader Anthony Bourne was also jailed for 12 years for his role in the attack.
The murder of Toni-Ann Byfield, the seven-year old shot in the back last month while staying in London with her father, a convicted crack cocaine dealer, also looks drugs-related.
No national figures are given for the total strength of the organised crime groups, but the report quotes a National Criminal Intelligence Service review of Bristol in March, 2002, which reported that there were an estimated 25 groups of Jamaicans. The police are having difficulties in keeping tabs on the criminals because they move around a lot, have false identity papers and often use only initials or street names, such as "T" and "Crazy".
The gangs have become skilful at breaking into new markets. The report says: "A favoured method of entering a new area is to use local prostitutes to set up crack houses and to break into the existing heroin market. Once a foothold has been established, other dealers, or rival Caribbean gangs will be targeted through intimidation, kidnap and the use of firearms."
The gangs are also found to be diversifying. The report notes: "Increasingly, there are examples of Caribbean crime groups collaborating with other ethnic groups to supply class A drugs. In Gloucester, Jamaicans run teams of local white 'runners' and in Birmingham there is a developing trend for the gangs to work with Asians in the supply of heroin." The cocaine is smuggled into Britain by couriers from Jamaica and continental Europe and also via cruise liners and "corrupt airport employees", the report says.
Jamaican criminals use different methods to enter the UK, including false papers. But they also come as students, the report says. A college in London, a religious centre in Manchester and a training centre in Bristol are named as places used for gangsters to enter as bogus students.
The report also warns about various music groups, including the collective So Solid Crew, and nightclubs that attract the gangsters and suggests all police forces should be alerted to the potential dangers.
* A ton of cocaine with a street value of £19m was seized by a Royal Navy destroyer in the Caribbean yesterday. HMS Manchester picked up the drugs from the sea after the vessel it was chasing dumped its cargo and escaped into Colombian waters.
Force by force breakdown
Avon and Somerset: "Over the past three or four years there has been a huge increase in Jamaican criminals operating in Bristol in loose networks." More than 50 reported firearm incidents
Bedfordshire: Since 1999, black gangs have operated in Luton and Bedford supplying class A drugs. Caribbean gangs from Manchester and London are trying to move in
Cambridgeshire: Since 2002, police have raided more than 20 suspected crack houses Cleveland: Since 2001, Jamaicans have been travelling to Middlesbrough to distribute crack
Derbyshire: Three groups operating out of Derby, one with links to Jamaica, one to Nottingham and the Netherlands, and one to Wolverhampton and Aberdeen
Devon and Cornwall: Emerging problem with Jamaicans moving from Liverpool
Dorset: Afro-Caribbean dealers established in Bournemouth selling heroin and crack
Gloucestershire: Firearms incidents in Gloucester involving Yardie gangs from neighbouring police force areas
Greater Manchester: Emergence of Jamaican gangs has not yet resulted in armed clashes with white gangs
Hampshire: In 2001, six Yardies arrived in Southampton to supply crack and heroin. Operation has grown and there are 260 suspects
Hertfordshire: Two groups, one numbering 14 and the other four, introduced crack
Humberside: Jamaicans travelling to Hull from London, Nottingham and Midlands and recruiting local criminals to distribute drugs
Kent: Twelve Jamaicans from London moved into heroin market, and run prostitution operation and deal crack
Lancashire: Jamaicans supplying crack from 30 addresses, mainly in Preston. Connected to Yardies in London and Midlands
Merseyside: Four Jamaican gangs in Liverpool, one on the Wirral. Involved in drugs, bogus marriages and guns
Metropolitan Police: Extensive problems with Caribbean gangs and Jamaicans withcontacts through UK
Northamptonshire: Jamaican group moved from London to supply crack in 1999. Prostitutes are used to introduce drugs to clients
Nottinghamshire: Jamaicans exerting control through extreme violence, with substantial increase in gun crime
South Wales: 8,000 heroin and crack users buying an estimated £130m of drugs a year, much coming from Yardies in Bristol
South Yorkshire: Big increase in kidnappings and firearms incidents in Afro-Caribbean areas of Sheffield since 2001. Caribbean criminals fled from Manchester to Sheffield and work with local Asian drug dealers
Surrey: In June 2001, two Jamaican males stopped from selling crack in Camberley. Since then no evidence of infiltration
Sussex: In 2000, a group of Jamaicans started supplying crack in Brighton area; now spread through county
Thames Valley: Marked increase in Jamaicans selling drugs in Reading, Oxford, Slough and High Wycombe
Warwickshire: Individuals, then drugs gangs moved in from neighbouring areas
West Midlands: Trend of American-based Jamaicans moving in. Local gangs known as "Home Boys"
West Yorkshire: Existing Caribbean drug dealers in Chapeltown, Leeds, forced out by Jamaicans with links through UK and Jamaica
Wiltshire: Drugs run from Brixton to Swindon and Bristol by train daily, but supply disorganised after it reaches the city
Edinburgh and Glasgow: Yardies have moved to the cities from Leeds
Aberdeen: Jamaicans from Wolverhampton and Derby moved prostitutes into area to meet demand from oil-rig workers. Prostitutes introduced cocaine and crack to area
© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd



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