Criminals sharing, renting, paying thousands for guns
Gang members are circulating illegal guns amongst the group and dishing out thousands of dollars to secure firearms for personal protection and criminal activity.
This was but one of the many gang related trends coming out of a study conducted by the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit (CJRPU).
Director of the CJRPU, Cheryl Willoughby, shared the findings of a study conducted with 200 inmates at HMP Dodds during the National Strategic Consultation on the Social Response to Crime in Barbados held today.
Information about gang activity showed age 17 was the general starting age for initiation into gangs, however, some as young as 15 years were frequenting blocks and being introduced to a life of crime.
She also spoke to the findings of firearm possession trends amongst gang members, describing the practice of gun sharing as “the circle”.
“Inmates spoke about being in groups where firearms can be easily obtained and passed from one person to another if you are a member of a particular circle.”
Inmates in the study also disclosed the purchase of illegal firearms could run a price tag of up to $10,000 or guns could be rented out to individuals for a range of prices.
The study identified over 50 blocks in Barbados, located in both urban and rural areas with six dominant gangs believed to be at the center of most of the criminal activity occurring in the country.
Some larger gangs had up to 50 members while smaller gangs ranged between 15 and 20 persons. They engaged in various forms of organized crime including robbery, theft, drug possession and trafficking, firearm possession, serious bodily harm and murder.
The drug trade often led to a situation where rival gangs engaged in acts of violence toward each other.
“There are waring fractions among young people from the various communities across Barbados. We have a situation where there is easy access to firearms in Barbados,” Willoughby pointed out and said this accounted for the majority of crime and violence affecting the country recently.