By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
AUTHORITIES have discovered that organised criminal groups in the Bahamas are not only nationwide, but are connected to other gangs in international countries.
As such groups have made many inner city communities unsafe, officials have made it clear that gang members who are convicted will not only face longer sentences, but will have their assets confiscated and used for crime fighting initiatives.
Both Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson and State Legal Affairs Minister Damian Gomez at a press conference yesterday shed more light on the magnitude of gangs in the Bahamas. In some cases, they said, they extend as far as Colombia and possibly further.
The measures are the result of amendments to the Penal Code, which are expected to combat organised crime and its reach throughout the nation.
“We are seeking to keep communities safe,” Mrs Maynard-Gibson said, “we are not going to tolerate crime gangs in our communities. We recognise that these gangs have international reach. We are going with our partners and countries around the world in this thrust.
“The police have brought to our attention that some leaders of organised crime groups believe that if they spend some time in jail it’s worth it because their assets will be made available to them once they leave jail. The result of this thrust is that their assets, those ill gotten gains, will be frozen and they will be confiscated. Also because the laws are already in place the money from the assets will be deployed in the fight against crime.
“The police advise us that the reach of organised crime and organised gangs in our community is extensive. They reach into other islands. I don’t want to name them to in any way compromise the work of the police.”
The Attorney General reassured the public that the Christie administration has spent all of its resources to eradicating the criminal element in the country.
“Nothing is more important to us than assuring that Bahamians understand that all of our resources are going to be mounted 24-7, 365 (days a year) in the fight against crime. We are making progress.
“We will spare no efforts and we will deploy all of our resources to ensure that these people are brought to justice,” she said.
The Bill refers to any criminal organisation with three or more people who participate in illegal activities. Accordingly, such persons would be subject to fines of $500,000 and a prison sentence of 20 years with a minimum of 15 years.