CRIMINAL gangs aligned to the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) in the Maxfield Avenue area of Whitfield Town are being paid up to $100,000 per day to join in the mounting unrest in the Corporate Area sparked by resistance to the security forces’ attempt to arrest Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.
According to men claiming to be members of the gangs, they are being paid by Coke, who is currently battling, in the Supreme Court, his pending extradition to the United States on drug- and gun-running charges.
Sections of the West Kingston area of the Jamaican capital have been plunged into unrest since last week Tuesday after it was announced that a warrant had been issued for Coke’s arrest.
Barricades were immediately mounted around Coke’s stronghold of Tivoli Gardens, followed later by a mass demonstration, by mostly female residents, appealing for the security forces to “leave Dudus alone”.
Police officers with expertise on gang operations told the Observer in March, two months before the current violence erupted, that thugs aligned to the PNP would join forces with the Tivoli hoodlums, who are affiliated with the ruling Jamaica Labour Party, should an attempt be made to take Coke into custody.
Signs of that cross-party alliance emerged on Sunday when gunmen from the Jones Town area, close to Maxfield Avenue, blocked a section of Spanish Town Road in the vicinity of the St Andrew Technical High School, as the security forces surrounded Tivoli Gardens before launching their offensive to capture Coke.
Yesterday, as that operation was in full swing, heavily armed men were busy blocking sections of Maxfield Avenue, from Wellington Road. Heavy gunfire was reported in the vicinity of Fitzgerald Avenue and the lower section of Maxfield Avenue where a woman was shot and injured.
A house was reportedly torched along Whitfield Avenue.
“A whole heap a gunshot a fire down Whitfield Avenue,” a resident told the Observer yesterday.
Residents have also reported that the heavily armed men are making no effort to conceal their weapons, as they walk around in broad daylight, ready to unleash mayhem, despite the imposition of a limited State of Emergency.