‘A ticking time bomb’

THE involvement of school-aged children in St Elizabeth in illicit activities fuelled by drug and alcohol has led a police corporal to conclude that the parish is a “ticking bomb that is about to explode”.

Addressing students and parents during a drug awareness seminar in the parish recently, Corporal Nicola Allen Gayle — who listed marijuana, ecstasy/molly, alcohol, crack (made from cocaine), Lean/purple drink (clear soda with cold medicine, flavoured with candy), gummy frass (gummy bears soaked in vodka), and vaping as common among youth — urged parents to “police” their children even while detailing the chaos unfolding in schools there.

“Every kid popping molly now. Alcohol very common. Send them to school and even on the compound they are drunk; they not learning. The police have to be called in to remove students who are behaving boisterously. Very early in the morning, as early as 10:00 and 11:00 am, they are removing students for behaving boisterously; they are drunk,” Allen Gayle, head of the operational support team at Santa Cruz Police Station, told the group.

“They feel nice, and they don’t learn a thing for the day because them high. And most times when they are high they are very agitated — dem waan beat the teacher, dem waan beat other students and we have ‘stab up’ in schools, and we know who bad from who nuh bad, and they form gangs. St Elizabeth, I am telling you, we are a ticking bomb that is about to explode. In my work field, when a youth lives past the age of about 30 you are on time over, you are on bonus; your life is really a span of about 25 based on how we are operating today,” she said.

The corporal pointed out that crack — a small piece of which, in some cases, costs between $100 and $200 and is easily accessible — is big a problem.

“I personally have been trying to take down the coke base in Santa Cruz; it’s not working. Yuh find a corkful today, you charge somebody, sometimes you don’t even find anybody to charge, and it goes right back. And everybody know weh di coke base deh a Santa Cruz. I have seen high-society people, poor people pickney — all sort a pickney coming from coke base. And to go around there and see how round there nasty and stink, and you little boys find yourselves on coke base? It’s a disgrace,” she said.

“You said they wouldn’t take up a biscuit off the ground and eat it because it’s dirty? Well, you don’t want to go around to coke base; faeces all over, the stench is killing you. They urinate any and everywhere there and they sleep any and everywhere and it still attracts our boys. Is this really the society that we want to live in?” she questioned.

Allen Gayle, in the meantime, pointed out that a number of schools, in the interest of maintaining their image, have been tight-lipped about the issues which the police have no choice but to confront.

“Every school wants to look good, wants to look like we are polished. I know a whole lot of school secrets because we have to deal with it. Even the ones in the past who were the crème de la crème are giving us hell. We have to be dealing with the drug abuse in there, the choppers in there, the loan agencies in there — and when the loan agencies don’t get back their money the fights start,” Allen Gayle revealed.

Referencing the capture of two wanted men in the area recently — one of whom was killed by the police — as symbolic of the depths of lawlessness now being experienced in the area, Allen Gayle said, “We need to wake up! This is St Elizabeth, the breadbasket parish, the beautiful parish. I am so proud of my parish and we are destroying it, we are helping others to come in and destroy it because wi licky, licky and wi belly long. Stop walk wid dirty money! Stop talk bout ‘God provide’. God nuh provide nuh dutty money!”

Allen Gayle encouraged parents to be aware of the code names used by youngsters to speak about the different drugs in order to avoid detection.

Code names for cocaine include apache, blonde, blow, candy, Florida snow, white girl, and zip. Slang names for crack include black rock, dice, gravel, ice cubes, RIP and white tornado. Marijuana codes include weed, pot, grass, dope, reefer, harsh, herb, and chronic, while slang names for ecstasy are molly, candy, happy pill, essence, hug drug, and scooby snacks.

The police corporal also urged parents to smell their children’s uniforms prior to washing, observe the palms of their children’s hands, and examine their mouths, paying particular attention to the undersides of their teeth.

Her advice was given with the knowledge that the use of some drugs cause a condition called dry mouth, which significantly increases the risk of tooth decay.

In July this year, Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey expressed concern about what he described as an increase in organised crime in St Elizabeth. According to Bailey, who heads the crime portfolio in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, “It is something we are actually paying attention to and we cannot overemphasise the influx of persons engaged in lottery scamming and other organised crime activities that we are seeing in the parish.”

He also expressed concern about the increasing trend of murders, shootings and robberies in the parish which usually has less of those activities year on year.

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