A criminal gang known as “Hotskull” that stages robberies out of Albouystown and parts of Sophia is still giving police headache although its operations have been disrupted with the killing of several members and arrest of many others, police said.
At a pre-Christmas briefing on plans for patrolling the city and its environs for the Festive Season, police disclosed that a major identifier of gang members is a tattoo of a human skull on their bodies with red flames emanating.
Deputy Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud said lawmen have dented “Hotskull” after at least 15 suspected gangsters were killed and arrested in recent months.
While police have efffectively crushed the West Demerara -Parika gang, he acknowledged that police have not dismantled the gang but “significantly disrupted it and our investigations are continuing.
‘Hotskullers’ included three Albouystown youths who were gunned down on October 12 near K&VC Hotel, South Road, Georgetown. They are 19-year old Anthony “Two Grand” Joseph, 21-year old Jermaine Canterbury and 19-year old Romario Gouveia. Police said the men were about to rob an occupant of the hotel when they were intercepted and an exchange of gunfire ensued. Eyewitnesses and Gouveia-before he succumbed several days later- had disputed the police version of events. They have even gone as far as denying that the men had been armed although police later produced photos of two handguns that had been recovered from the men.
Other Hotskull gang members identified by police include four brothers who were recently sentenced to 60 months imprisonment for armed robbery. They are Orlando, Kevin, Leonard and Chavez – ages ranging from 19 to 27. They were convicted in August of this year for robbing Amanda Kyte at gunpoint of jewellery, cash and a bag amounting to GUY$687,000.
Eight others between the ages of 21 and 29 years old have been charged with robbery under arms and illegal possession of firearms.
A statistical analysis shows that persons between 15 and 35 years old are the highest perpetrators of street crime, murder, break-in offences and rape. He said an analysis of the persons charged for crimes by age revealed that 78 percent of the persons charged in general are below 35, whilst 52 percent of the repeat offenders are below the same age.
The Chief of Criminal Investigations also reported that 80 percent of the persons charged with robbery related murders are below 35 years. That age bracket too is responsible for 93.6 percent of repeat offenders for street crimes, 74.4 percent of persons charged with breaking offences and 66.3 percent of persons charged with rape, he said.
Persaud said that the force has been employing a strategy of increased visibility to counter crime, working within those environments known to turn out criminals. The Police and the Ministry of Home Affairs are working with youths, giving them vocational training in interpersonal relationship and domestic violence. These youths also take on the responsibility to work with the community on special social projects such as clean-up exercises, and drug and alcohol avoidance programmes.
Apart from these, the police also created youth and scout clubs, and recently launched a faith based initiative. The latter is aimed at reforming first offenders for minor offences through interaction with faith based officers.
Guyana has recorded 108 murders from January to October of this year compared to 115 for the corresponding period last year.