Animals are being stolen, slaughtered and shipped to Haiti to be exchanged for guns, the police have said. Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Kevin Francis, who made the claim, said Jamaica is currently losing some $6 billion annually to praedial larceny.
“Praedial larceny is a big organized business in Jamaica. The thieves steal the animals, slaughter them for the meat, which they ship to Haiti, where it is exchanged for guns,” said Francis, who heads the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit.
“It is a serious problem and it is affecting our crime rate negatively,” Francis said.
The cop, who was speaking at last Thursday’s awards ceremony at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority boardroom in Hague, Trelawny, said the thieves have even managed to drive fear into their victims.
In relating a story of a farmer who recently lost four of his prized goats to thieves, Francis said that after the thieves were apprehended by the police, the farmer refused to provide a statement so that legal action could be taken against them.
“When we found the thieves and decided to take action against them, the farmer flatly refused to give a statement against them or come to court,” said Francis. “According to him, he is fearful of getting caught up in the ‘informer fi dead’ mentality, which is common across the country.”
In declaring that the police cannot fight the battle against praedial thieves on their own, Francis has urged the farming community to step up to the plate and play their part.
“The police need your help. When information is lacking, it affects our success rate, so you need to play your part by providing information and going to court when these thieves are caught.”
Meanwhile, four outstanding farmers, who have collectively given over 131 years of service to agriculture, were honored at the ceremony. They are Sylvester Green, Hebert Bell, Rupert Brown, and Headley Brown.
In addition to being outstanding farmers, the four awardees are long-serving members of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, which is the official umbrella organization for farmers in Jamaica.