|The Jamaican posses began in the
late 1960s and 1970s as urban gangs recruited and armed by politicians
to: organize local constituencies, distribute political favours, enforce
party loyalty and turn out votes. Such gangs were created by members of
both the conservative Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the leftist
People’s National Party (PNP), Jamaica’s principal political
organizations. The use of armed gangs and the promotion of violence as
strategic initiatives to secure or retain political power became known
in Jamaica as "political tribalism." The gangs would
eventually call themselves "posses," a result of the
infatuation in urban ghetto areas at the time with the gunslinger ethos
of American and spaghetti-western movies.
The posses, led by local "dons" in league with political party figures, established urban political strongholds known as "garrison" communities, veritable fortresses completely controlled by one political party or the other, "states within a state" in which those who sought to oppose the dominant party "would definitely be in danger of suffering serious damage to their possessions or person. By the late 1970s, both PNP and JLP garrison communities had been established throughout the capital of Kingston; in the adjacent St. Andrew parish to the north; and in St. Catherine parish just to the west where the principal city is Spanish Town. During the run-up to the 1980 elections, running battles between PNP and JLP posses resulted in an estimated 800 political killings and nearly 20,000 people burned out of their homes.
In the early 1980s, many posses became involved in cocaine and marijuana smuggling as Jamaica developed into a transshipment point for drug trafficking to the United States. With this new source of income, posses and their dons could rely less on the patronage of politicians and began to operate more independently. Still, posses continued to play a political role through the 1980s and 1990s, and because of the overlap and, in some places, integration between political and drug-trafficking structures, the line between political and purely criminal violence became blurred.
Though the level of specifically political violence has not returned to the heights of 1980s, and political party leaders have tried to disassociate themselves from armed political enforcers, garrison control of communities through force and intimidation has actually expanded. In 1997, eight of Jamaica’s 60 electoral constituencies—all in Kingston, St. Andrew and St. Catherine—were identified as "unambiguously garrisoned," an increase from just three in 1989, while there were four others where domination by one political party or the other was estimated at 50 percent or more. At the same time, purely political violence has become more of a "seasonal phenomenon," primarily affecting communities during electoral campaign and periods of national political tension.
Over the course of the last two decades, the leadership and relative strength of posses have evolved, as new dons have emerged and some posses have split, reorganized or established bases of operations in the United States and Britain (where they are known as "yardies"). In some communities, posses today are not only trafficking in drugs and guns, they have also begun funding and running their own social welfare schemes. What has not changed is the division of urban communities along traditional political lines and the cyclical feuding and retaliation between posses over turf and limited public resources. For example, the electoral constituency of Western Kingston remains a JLP stronghold, while much of St. Andrew as well as East Central St. Catherine remain PNP garrisons.
Jamaican posse members are highly mobile and travel frequently to new areas to set up drug distribution networks in other communities. As they expand, they leave behind trusted lieutenants to manage their old territories and to collect the profits due them. When posses attempt to expand, they often encounter fierce opposition from African-American drug dealers already established in the new areas. Conflicts inevitably erupt, and frequently turn into armed confrontations and murder.
|Jamaicans are principally involved
in drug smuggling, especially crack cocaine and marijuana. Unlike other
gangs though the posses collect their money after the drugs are sold on
the street. Profits are then given to their leader who redistributes the
money as he sees fit. Also unlike other gangs posses aren't involved in
money laundering preferring to keep it all as cash.
Drugs are smuggled in by couriers travelling on commercial airlines. Once in the country the drugs are then taken by bus or car to a stash house until it is ready for sale at which point it is taken to a crack house by a local youth. Crack houses are usually old buildings which have been heavily fortified. When entering new territory they scout the local drug market first. They then sell the highest quality drugs at the best prices to drive competitors out of business. Failing that they use violence and murder instead.
Other activities include gun running, forgery, grand theft auto, kidnappings, robberies, insurance fraud and home invasions. Posses are considered the most violent and murderous of all gangs, feared by even the Colombians.
Examples of Posses
|Recently the term "posse" has become popular with non-Jamaican gangs, due
to the publicity surrounding the Jamaican groups. In many urban areas, for instance, African-American youth gangs have adopted the term "posse." And many of the real Jamaican posses have started calling themselves "Massive" to describe their core group, (i.e., Spangler Massive and Dunkirk Massive). Many of the second-tier members have started using the term "crews" to describe their cells or their drug distribution networks.
The Shower Posse originated in the Tivoli
Gardens section of Kingston, Jamaica, and its members have been avid
supporters of the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP). In September, 1988, a
federal grand jury indicted 34 members of the Shower Posse, including
Lester Lloyd Coke, alias Big Jim Brown, the Shower Posse leader in
Kingston, as well as Vivian Blake, the leader of the Shower Posse in the
United States. Blake's two half-brothers, Errol Hussing and Tony Bruce,
who headed the New York City operations of the Shower Posse, were also
indicted. Coke is scheduled for an extradition hearing from Jamaica.
Vivian Blake is still a fugitive, and intelligence information indicates
that as recently as September, 1989, he had been in Atlantic City for
less than 24 hours before departing for Toronto and then to
Jamaicans in the UK
|They drive top of the range BMWs,
flaunt designer gold jewellery and carry automatic guns as a weapon of
choice. They are Yardies and in terms of a reputation for ruthless
violence they could one day rival the Triads or Mafia.
A spate of violent killings in London's black community has raised fears that the capital is witnessing a renewed bout of Yardie gang warfare. It would not be the first time. Almost 12 months ago similar predictions were being made after three murders appeared to be linked to gang activity. That it failed to materialise was seized on by those who feel the Yardie phenomenon is more myth than reality. Certainly the Metropolitan Police do not formally acknowledge the existence of Yardie gangs. They refuse to use the term publicly, although the Met's Operation Trident is widely seen as an effort to combat Yardie crime. Trident, which started life in south London, has been compiling information on the crossover of gun and drug culture and investigating shootings in the area. It is currently being rolled-out across the capital.
Yardies is the term applied to Jamaican-born gangsters operating in Britain. The name refers to criminals from the impoverished back yards of Kingston, Jamaica. One reason for the police's reluctance to pigeonhole Yardies in the manner of other organised crime groups could be their lack of organisation. There is no central control or brotherhood structure, so Yardies have few affiliations or loyalties. Gangs are very loose knit and often fall out with each other. Members are mostly linked to drug and arms dealing as well as robbery. It is a lifestyle synonymous with violence - impulse shootings and gangland-style executions are used to sort out internal squabbles. The Yardie phenomenon in the UK was first noted in the late 1980s and their rise is linked to that of crack-cocaine, in which many trade. Since then their reputation for ruthless violence has grown with each shooting. In 1993 Yardies were blamed for the cold-blooded murder of PC Patrick Dunne, who was on patrol in Clapham when he stumbled across a shooting incident.
The gangsters hit the headlines again in 1997 when police tactics to infiltrate the underworld were exposed in a World in Action documentary. Metropolitan Police overlooked a series of violent crimes carried out by two Yardie informers, Eaton Green and Delroy Denton, while they passed on intelligence to Scotland Yard. While an informer, Green was involved in the UK's largest armed robbery, when 150 people were held up at a blues party in Nottingham. In the past six weeks alone, Yardie involvement has been suggested in five black-on-black murders in London. In one double murder last month, Laverne Forbes, 28, and her partner Patrick Smith, 31, were shot in the head in their north London flat. Their seven-year-old daughter witnessed both killings. On Monday a 51-year-old sound engineer, Henry Lawes, was gunned down by a gang of five men outside his home in Harlesden, north west London. His killers waited until he fell over before ruthlessly finishing him off. Detective Superintendent Peter Camiletti, who set up Operation Trident, suggests the recent tide of murders may have been sparked by an infringement of the unwritten code of conduct.
"There seems to be in this culture, a culture of respect for each other's status. If disrespectful acts take place that can lead to revenge attacks," he says. Their expensive tastes can make Yardies highly conspicuous. Wealth is something they flaunt, often in the form of flashy cars, gold jewellery and designer clothes. Moschino is a favourite label. Image is everything in their world, as the notorious death of Mark Burnett demonstrates. In 1991, Mr Burnett was shot dead in the middle of a London nightclub after he accidentally stepped on the toe of a Yardie gunman. Yet stories like this have only bolstered the Yardie image of merciless brutality and, according to some, helped perpetuated what is little more than a myth. Journalist Tony Thompson, who researched the Yardie underworld thoroughly for his 1995 book Gangland Britain, concluded that while Yardies definitely exist, their influence has been blown out of proportion. Across the UK, he estimated Yardies numbered between 80 and 200 in total. Yet between 1986 and 1995 he estimated they had been responsible for 57 murders. Retired Detective Superintendent John Jones, who investigated the Yardie scene in the early 1990s, has said killings are worn as a "badge of honour" and tell others "they are not to be messed with". But the cycle of violence is such that a Yardie never stays on top very long. Their live-for-the moment philosophy explains why, according to Mr Jones, the average life expectancy for a Yardie is 35. Despite their lack of discipline, the "here today, gone tomorrow" culture is a major obstacle to police efforts to infiltrate the fraternity. Added to this is the climate of fear that pervades any culture of organised crime. There were 2,000 partying the night away alongside Mark Burnett when he was murdered. Yet 350 claimed to have been in the toilets when the shooting started, hundreds gave false names and addresses and of the 270 who were immediately arrested, none could recall seeing anything out of the ordinary.
|Dominicans||Italian Mafia||Jamaican Posse||Mexican Mafia|
|Outlaw Bikers||Piracy||Russian Mafia||Street Gangs|
|Terrorists||Triads and Tong||Vietnamese||Yakuza|