The black tide of gangland murders (6 persons dead in Belize City in one week) has quite overwhelmed Belize City, forcing the Prime Minister to invoke emergency powers of search and detention under the Constitution for certain areas of Belize City where gang influence is high.

The gangs have consolidated their position, and have formed an alliance with the drug dealers who in recent months have increased their smuggling activities. The drug dealers provide the gangs with the guns they need, and in return the gangs provide muscle and information and, on a local level, a distribution network for the drugs.

Gangs in Belize City have developed an intelligence network which is crude but effective. Using cell phones they keep tabs on everything. That poor woman who was murdered in her kitchen earlier this week was killed by the gangland leader who ordered her death knew she would be in her kitchen, frying fish. Theresita Flowers made her living by selling food to the neighborhood. She was killed not because of some imagined feud from the past, but simply a victim of crime.
Traditional policing has not been able to break the power of the gangs in Belize and the special forces created specifically to suppress the gangs end up alienating everybody. People trapped in gangland territory cannot depend on the police to keep them safe, and so they make their peace with the gangs.

The gangs rule through intimidation and fear, and pride themselves on being ruthless. The Prime Minister in his extraordinary press conference last Sunday referred to them collectively as Murder Incorporated. That is because they have become executioners for hire. People who feel aggrieved can now seek gangland help, and for a fee, get rid of people they don’t like.

The mistake the Prime Minister and his ministers are making is to under-estimate the danger of this looming calamity. Drug dealers and gang leaders have formed a formidable alliance. They will not willingly give up the ground they have gained. They will use all their resources to thwart any and all attempts to bring them to task. There is a looming battle ahead, and if Belize is going to survive and win, she will be needing all the help she can get.
In combatting gang violence Belize needs to prepare for war. The UDP and the PUP must come together to decide what extraordinary steps they are prepared to take to confront this new and frightful peril. We believe that we need to develop a special agency of investigation and prosecution and not be depending on the Police and the Director of Public when dealing with certain high crimes against the state. Drug trafficking and gangland murder/assassination should be classified as high crimes against the state.

There should also be a special tribunal to try offenders, similar to tribunals set up for war crimes.

Comments are closed.