FALMOUTH, Trelawny — The Trelawny police have revealed that members of four criminal gangs were present at an unauthorised birthday party in Hague Settlement in the parish where three men were shot dead during a confrontation with members of an Operation Relentless II team.
The joint police military operations team had gone to shut down the event during the wee hours of Saturday morning.
Speaking at a press conference at Falmouth Police Station on Sunday, commander of the Trelawny Police Division, Deputy Superintendent Winston Milton identified the gangs as Sinners, One Voice, Six, and the fledgling Taliban outfit.
Milton, who said that the party was hosted by the leader of the Six gang, added that there were designated areas for the respective criminal rings at the venue.
“The event is not your regular birthday party in that we have found out that at the event [there] were a number of criminal groupings. In essence, there was proliferation of tents scattered across the grounds of the event that were properly designated with banners for specific criminal cells,” he said.
The senior cop disclosed that one of the areas was delegated to One Sin, which is strongly believed to have been for Sinners and and One Voice — two former rivalling factions in the community.
“Among them, we saw One Sin, which we theorise was the designated area for the One Voice gang and the Sinners gang, both operating out of Hague Settlement. This is of particular concern to us because these two criminal factions are rival groupings and consistently in conflict. What we’re seeing is an amalgamation of both criminal groupings as they try to consolidate and organise themselves to perpetuate criminal activities across the space,” Milton told reporters.
“Another of the gangs that we saw there was a grouping known as Six. The host of the party, whose name we will not reveal at this particular time as we are conducting investigation, deemed himself to be the Six boss. There were several graffiti painted across the venue indicating this also,” he said, adding that another tent was designated for the emerging gang known as Taliban.
“Their banner was embellished with a picture of a rifle mounted on a bipod, grenades and masks. We will not comment in further as it relates to this particular grouping,” the cop said.
He noted that gangsters are responsible for nearly half of the murders recorded in the parish since the start of this year, and the Trelawny police are now placing a heavy emphasis on dismantling of the criminal organisations.
“We are concerned about gangs and gang activities in the parish of Trelawny. Last year, we had a total of 17 murders. Of these, two, or 12 per cent, were attributed to gangs. Since the start of the year, to date, we have seen an uptick in murders and of this number, 14, or whopping 48 per cent, are attributed to gangs,” Milton said.
“Consequently, we have skewed our policing plan, focusing on gangs, seeing that they are prolific contributors to our crime stats, particularly as it relates to murder.”
The police reported that on Saturday, October 8, about 2:15 am, a joint police/military team on an Operation Relentless II exercise in Trelawny went to stop an illegal event at Hague Settlement. On their arrival, the team was attacked by criminal elements who opened gunfire at them.
“The team was forced to defend themselves. When the shooting subsided, four persons were found suffering from gunshot wounds. Among them was one member of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF). All four were rushed to hospital where three were pronounced dead and one, the member of JDF, treated for injuries he sustained,” Milton said.
Three pistols — two Taurus and a Beretta — and a total of 17 nine millimetre cartridges were seized.
The deceased, all of Hague Settlement, were identified as 26-year-old Trevor Rhynie, also called Beenie; 23-year-old Oshane Surgeon, also called Primento or Primo; and 21-year-old Tushnie Cleghorn, also called Tusane or Blacks.
“Intelligence have indicated that all three men are members of the Sinners Gang which operates within the Hague Settlement community,” the Trelawny police chief stated. “They have been the subject of numerous police operations as they have been linked to illegal firearms and ammunition.”
He disclosed that Rhynie was released from prison in January 2022 after serving five years for illegal possession of firearm.
“The gun was recovered from him in 2018 in Ulster Spring in the southern side of the parish,” Milton said.
Milton also raised concern that teenagers were among several individuals taken into custody.
“A number of persons were arrested during the operation, and among them were four children, ages ranging from 15 to 17. We are particularly concerned about this fact. Consequently, we are appealing to parents and guardians within the parish to ensure that you know where your children or your wards are, particularly at night,” Milton said.
He reassured law-abiding residents of Hague Settlement and other parts of the parish that the police are committed to protecting them from criminal elements.
Added Milton: “For the gangsters and other criminal elements who are perpetrating acts of criminality and continue to perpetrate acts of criminality across the parish, I wish to warn you, I urge you to surrender your firearms when confronted by members of the security forces within the parish. Should you choose to engage them with guns, rest assured that they will employ every legitimate, legal means to defend themselves and the citizens of the parish. We will not relent, we will not retreat, we will not surrender.”