There is a calm on the streets of Vieux Fort these days which should not be misread by the authorities. Yes, Vieux Fort is no longer a ghost town, in that schools and businesses are open and the streets are flowing with the usual day to day activities, but under the calm are violent, trigger-happy people, just waiting to display their ungodly acts.
Prime Minister Philip J Pierre has shown a political will to root out the serious crime scourge in Vieux Fort, and with a heavy police presence in the area, complemented with officers of the Regional Security System, the criminals have no choice but to stay under the radar of law enforcement.
Mr. Pierre, three weeks ago, gave us a glimpse of what really sparked the upsurge in gun violence and homicides in Vieux Fort when he said that, “What happened in Vieux Fort was unprecedented…we know that a Don was killed in Vieux Fort and there is retaliation.”
When the prime minister said that a “Don” was killed in Vieux Fort, was he referring to a drug lord, drug baron or drug kingpin? He has given us no reason to think otherwise. All these, including the word “Don” are titles to describe a high-ranking crime boss who controls a sizable network of people involved in the illegal drug trade and other nefarious acts. Such figures are often difficult to bring to justice, as they are normally not directly in possession of, or involved in something illegal, but rather are insulated from the actual trade in drugs by several layers of underlings.
These are the dangerous people in the society as they have the financial resources to undermine the work of law enforcement and the justice system. Going after the Dons should be the focal point of Mr. Pierre’s strategy to eliminate gun violence in Vieux Fort and the rest of the country.
Anyone with the wherewithal to control a sizeable network of people involved in the illegal drug trade is a danger to society, a cancer which must be rooted out by any means necessary. It would be insane of the government, or law enforcement agencies, to believe that such persons are not part of the gun violence in Saint Lucia.
The Dons or drug lords must never be left alone. The measures mentioned by Mr. Pierre to stop gun violence must not only be used to bring the Dons’ foot soldiers to justice.
It is the Dons, drug lords, kingpins of the illegal drug trade that must be uprooted for any significant victory to be recorded against serious crime in the country.
We know this is easier said than done, but having the political will to drive this through is there. We saw a glimpse of it when the prime minister faced the press three Mondays ago, and this week when he delivered the 2023/2024 Budgetary Statement.
Said Pierre in parliament Wednesday: “I want to reassure all Saint Lucians that their safety remains my government’s number one priority. The economic and social life of our country depends on a safe environment, and so we will do what is needed to make Saint Lucia a safe place. No individual or group of individuals will thwart our efforts to make Saint Lucia safe.”
We are aware that the prosecution of drug lords is usually the result of carefully planned infiltration into their networks, often using informants from within their organizations.
Knowing this, we ask the prime minister and law enforcement agencies to plan carefully and be result oriented, because should Dons or drug lords be left standing in this present climate, the shooting sprees will continue, despite the quietness of today.
We must work to prevent not only the almost daily violence in the country, but work to crush the power of the drug lords and Dons in impoverished communities. By doing so we save lives –frequently, innocent lives.
We have renewed hope that, together, we can prevent gun violence and other forms of serious crimes in the country. We have listened to our police commissioner, our prime minister, our Chamber of Commerce, our hospitality and tourism people and others, all throwing their support behind the current plans of government to deal with serious crime in the country.
With all our shoulders to the proverbial wheel, we should be able to deal with all the underlying contributors to gun violence, thereby systematically reducing risks and increasing resilience in individuals, families and communities.