Federal agents have begun a nationwide roundup of violent Jamaican drug gangs blamed for 1,400 murders over the last 3 1/2 years and 121 people already have been arrested, authorities here and in Washington said today.
U.S. Atty. Gen. Dick Thornburgh said the Jamaican gangs, called posses, are “among the largest traffickers in crack cocaine.”
The posses “have staked out a large piece of the nation’s drug and firearms trafficking,” Thornburgh told a Washington news conference, and are allegedly involved in kidnaping, robberies, assaults, domestic and international gun trafficking, money laundering and fraud.
Arrests in 20 States
The arrests began Wednesday night and cover 20 states, but were focused in Houston, Miami and New York, said Stephen Higgens, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The posses, which grew out of gangs in the slums of Jamaica that carried their activities and their bloody feuds to the streets of the United States, are estimated to have 10,000 members nationwide, he said.
The Miami indictment accuses the suspects of smuggling cocaine and marijuana from the Bahamas and distributing the drugs in suitcases to New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and other locations.
It also charges them with buying weapons in Dayton, Ohio, and trying to bribe witnesses in New York.
There are no federal murder charges, but among the racketeering acts are accusations that various posse members participated in nine murders during 1984 and 1985, including six in Miami, two in Los Angeles and one in the Bronx.