British Police Helping Jamaica Root Out Rampant Gang Violence

British Police Helping Jamaica Root Out Rampant Gang Violence

Kingston, JAMAICA -- The screaming of the newly widowed let the people of Common know revenge had visited them that Monday morning. A fierce current, taking hold of the Caribbean basin, lashed rolls of thunder and heavy rainfall down upon the tough uptown community's ramshackle buildings. Flyposting, advertising downtrodden reggae dancehalls and erotica clubs, grew soggy and limpid, giving way to graffiti tags sprayed on the walls underneath. A congealed sludge of soil skimmed along the streetscape, dirt and leaves clogging in the strip of potholes and fissures that passes for Red Hills Road. A lone jerk vendor, braving the elements, hurriedly tethered a goat to a makeshift stall. It seemed the rain, beating out its unrelenting rhythm against rusted, corrugated iron roofs, thought it best to wash the place clean.

Little over 24 hours previously, a mile or so to the south in Black Ants Lane, the killing had begun. A sleek Mercedes saloon, the first light gleaming off its waxed black bonnet, arrived from nearby Kingston. Stopping outside a small concrete dwelling abuzz with noise and clamor, the passenger door opened, and Leslie Green, a stumpy, diminutive Scot in middle age, stepped out. Flattening a plain navy tie against a crisp, white, short-sleeved shirt, he made his way inside the house, taking care not to place his polished brogues in the dark, vermilion pools that licked their way across the floor.

The first was no older than 30, lying bloodied and lifeless against the bathroom wall. Nearby, another man struggled for breath, his hand clutching a deep neck wound. Spent AK-47 shell cases scattered the ground like confetti. Figures blurred back and forth, some in militaristic uniform, barking a confused rage at one another. Some 90 minutes after the gunmen had struck, the house had yet to be cordoned off by a panicked police force. Taking control, Green hastily reminded the officers under his command they now occupied a murder scene. As the yellow tape went up, Green walked through the building, discovering the victims for himself. Recognizing their faces, he knew a long weekend lay in wait. The dead man was Richard Francis, a member of the Park Lane gang; the survivor, Cleveland "Cassie" Downer, was its leader.

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