Jamaican Drug Trafficking Organizations (JDTOs), also referred to as "posses," "crews," and "massives," are generally mobile, loosely knit groups that engage in a variety of criminal activities including; drug and firearms trafficking, money laundering, murder, assault, robbery, kidnapping, and fraud. They deal in several types of drugs, including cocaine, marijuana (ganja), heroin, and PCP.
Violence is an integral part of JDTO operations and their members are usually well armed with modern weapons. Violence is most often directed at individuals perceived to be a threat to their illegal ventures, but they have little regard for bystanders. They are particularly brutal using torture, dismemberment and other extreme measures to intimidate rivals and members. JDTO members often resist arrest and have been in a number of shootings with law enforcement.
While JDTOs have been characterized as loosely knit, they have an extensive national and international network to carry out their illegal activities.
Six men from Jamaica's most wanted list are believed to be living in Britain. They are Donnovan Bennett, 38, nicknamed "Bulbie," the "don" of a drug trafficking gang called Clans Massive based in Spanish Town, west of Kingston, who is blamed for at least 20 murders; Kemar "Natty Patch" Jarrett, 20, alleged to have gunned down a magistrate in Kingston; Mark Bromley, alias "Shotty Mark," a member of the President's Click thought to be in Brixton; scar-faced Glenford Spencer, seen recently in Bristol; Daniel Lowe, nicknamed "Gun Power," wanted for shooting dead a 17-year-old boy who argued with him; and Andrew Meade, known as "Dread", who is alleged to have shot dead his own brother and a girlfriend. Yardie gangsters find it not only easier to enter Britain but can also make bigger profits than in the US, where the street price of cocaine has slumped.
"More and more of the criminals of the Jamaican gangs are going to the UK," said Tony Hewitt, a senior superintendent with Jamaica's Special Branch. "It seems that every time you search for a man, you hear that he is in England."
The consequences can increasingly be seen on Britain's streets. Incidents involving Yardie-style gangs in London more than doubled in January, compared with the same month last year. In England and Wales, a significant proportion of the 9 per cent rise in gun crime last year to a record 4,019 incidents is attributed to Yardie gun culture.So engrained are the Yardies in London that part of Brixton in the south of the capital is known as Little Tivoli, named after Tivoli Gardens.However, it is not just London where the Yardies have established strongholds. Seven police forces covering cities from Leeds and Leicester to Southampton and Plymouth have now launched operations similar to the Metropolitan police's Operation Trident, set up five years ago to tackle black-on-black gun crime.
Detective Inspector Bruce Ballagher, who runs Operation Atrium in Bristol, said: "We believe the major part of the crack supply revolves around Jamaican organised crime groups. They drive their drugs trade dealing by fear, intimidation and violence."
Operation Stirrup, run against Yardies in Leeds last year, led to 160 arrests and 57 people being deported to Jamaica. A new initiative, Operation Safeguard, led to 30 more arrests in a six-day clampdown earlier this month; two have already been deported.
Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Brown, who is heading the Leeds operation, said it was meant to send a strong message to the Yardies.
Jamaican police estimate there are 30 Yardie gangs operating in Britain. Some, like the Black Roses, which they claim to have smashed in Jamaica, operate in Bristol and Brixton. One of the most powerful is known as the President's Click, which was formed out of the notorious Shower Posse. It is headed by Christopher Lloyd Coke, also known as Dudas.
The cocaine is grown by the drug cartels of Colombia and shipped to Jamaica in fast boats that can do the journey across the Caribbean in 16 hours. The Jamaican coastguard, with one patrol boat capable of 12 knots, is powerless to stop the trade.
The cocaine is worth £1,000 per pound in Jamaica. A mule, often a prostitute working her passage, is paid a similar sum for swallowing a pound wrapped in condoms or in pellet form and flying to London. Customs officials at Heathrow and Gatwick suspect that at least one in 10 passengers from Jamaica are drug "mules."