Two weeks ago, a young man was murdered. A gang had tried to recruit him and he had refused to join. Conclusions: 1. The gangs are actively recruiting members to increase their strength and, 2. If you live in an area where there is a gang, you are not allowed to refuse their invitation to join. I hope that the Ministry of National Security has taken note of this very interesting development.

Early last week in Belmopan, the former Secretary to the Cabinet, Mr. James Murphy, Jr., was getting ready to take his daughter to school in his car. As they approached the vehicle, he saw two men sitting under a tree, nearby. They got up and came over to the car after they were inside. One of the men pushed a gun through the window on the driver’s side and ordered them to get out of the vehicle. The two men took possession of the vehicle and drove away. It was found parked in Belize City the following day.

I was struck by the attitude of those two men. They seemed to be supremely confident that they would get away with what they did. It is a serious crime to point a gun at someone. It is another crime to take possession of another man’s vehicle. Yet they made no attempt to conceal their identity. Clearly, they had no fear of punishment.

I think that their confidence was well-founded, if they were members of a gang. Then their gang could afford them protection in the form of terrorizing anyone who would dare to give information to the police with a commitment to testifying in court. The gang might overlook your giving information to the police but, would take steps to prevent you from testifying in court. Unthinkable? Outrageous? Not at all. That is the norm in these days. This state of affairs was confirmed by an e-mail to Mr. Murphy, warning him of the painful consequences of testifying in court.

In the latter part of that same week, Senior Counsel, Derek Courtenay’s vehicle was stolen on the way to work where he had stopped to do some shopping. My take on this incident is that the gangs are getting bolder as they are getting stronger.

What happened to Mr. Murphy and Mr. Courtenay could happen to anyone. We are all potential victims of the wolf pack, which is my designation for gangs. All peaceful, productive citizens are like sheep. We rely on our shepherds for protection. That is my designation of the government. The government relies on the Administration of Justice System but, that system is in shambles. The system can’t function without witnesses but, the gangs have made witnesses an endangered species. If we can’t convict anyone of crime, especially, violent crime, then our shepherds may as well “close shop”. Either that or face the reality that we are living in extraordinary circumstances which call for extraordinary measures, like “Breaking up the Gangs,” by making the fullest use of the power given to them by the people at the last elections.

Gangs are responsible for at least 60% of violent crime. Since the sole purpose of the existence of gangs is criminal activity, shouldn’t the breaking up of gangs, forcing criminals to operate independently, result in a reduction in the incidence of crime? There are other ways to reduce crime besides “breaking up the gangs.” The ones government has tried have not been impactful. Perhaps, they will do so in the long term but, we are more concerned about the short term.

Amandala