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Police confirm gang warfare responsible for murder spike

Posted: Tuesday, August 29, 2017. 9:13 a.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: Belize City has recorded eight murders in the month of August, a noticeable spike compared to previous months, when the city had experienced an unprecedented calm, which many have attributed to the community policing initiatives and supposed “gang-truce” introduced by former Easter Division South Commander, ACP Chester Williams.

Now, however, current Southern Division Commander, Sr. Supt. Marco Vidal says the spike in murders is definitely related to gang activity. Following the Monday morning murder of Gilroy Martinez, 32, on Curl Thompson street, Vidal told the media that police believe his demise was gang-related.

Vidal also gave an update on the two men arrested and charged for last Thursday’s Conch Shell Bay murder of Windell Gibson, saying the murder appears to have been retaliation for an incident which occurred two days earlier.

When asked about the apparent calm Belize City had experienced over the past few months in comparison to the flare up of violence in recent weeks, Vidal responded: “… as you said just now, seemingly there was peace. But if there was peace, there would be no reason for there not to be peace today. But obviously there was none. What was happening was that these elements thought they could expand certain activities once they were not committing murders. But then these same activities that they are expanding eventually lead to murders, so then what we are seeing is a bit of implosion of this situation.”

According to Vidal, the recent spike in violence is most likely a result of police cracking down on drug sales, a major source of funding for the gangs. Surprisingly, Vidal even confirmed “…this in fact, is what we anticipated would have happened.” Vidal, however, added that police have the situation under control and that residents have no reason to be concerned for their safety during the upcoming festivities in September.

The supposed gang-truce and intervention methods implemented by the previous division commanders had also drawn its fair share of criticism in certain circles, including criticism from esteemed sociologist Dr. Herbert Gayle. Former Division Commander Williams, however, disagreed with the criticism at the time.

There was also speculation that some of the murders that took place before Williams took up his new post, were gang-related but never acknowledged by police. One case in particular, the June 21st murder of Jermaine Franklin in front of Teddy’s Music Outlet in downtown Belize City flew under the radar. Twenty-five-year-old Kashief Gallego was arrested and charged for that murder but the media never pressed Williams on whether or not the killing was gang-related, however, in December 2016 when Gallego himself was shot, Williams had said to the media Gallego’s shooting was “gang-related”. No such declaration was made, however, when Gallego was charged for Franklin’s murder. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJWgb2WNrh0

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