Over the past couple years, law enforcement agencies across the globe have seen a steady rise in transnational organized gangs. To tackle this growing problem in the Bahamas, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) National Gang Unit recently led a workshop to train officers with the Royal Bahamas Police Force's newest anti-gang unit.
Modeled after U.S.-based gang task forces, the Royal Bahamas Police Force is in the process of standing up its first anti-gang unit. Early in this process the Bahamian police force looked to HSI's National Gang Unit for guidance, knowledge and techniques. After multiple discussions and an on-site visit to determine the Bahamian police force's specific needs, the HSI gang unit created a customized 24-hour curriculum to share best practices and strategies, as well as to build upon the Bahamian force's existing knowledge.
"While we have trained anti-gang units in Mexico, this is the first time we've developed an anti-gang course for the Royal Bahamas Police Force," said Alvin DeLaRosa, program manager for HSI's National Gang Unit. "It took about five months to come to fruition, but we're glad to have another partner to take on these international criminals."
The four-day training, held the last week of September, brought together gang experts from HSI, the FBI, the Organized Crime and Gang Unit of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C., and the Bahamian equivalent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Vetted Royal Bahamas Police Force officers learned about recognizing gangs, gathering intelligence and evidence, analyzing intelligence, types of smuggling, interview techniques, and prosecution strategies.
During the training's opening remarks, Bahamian National Security Minister Bernard Nottage noted that the "serious threat" these "well organized and sophisticated" gangs are posing to his country.
"We have come to pool our ideas on ways to eliminate or control the proliferation of gang violence or gang-type violence in our communities," Nottage said.
DeLaRosa noted that in the Bahamas, these gangs resort to whatever tactics, including homicide, they need to in order to survive, to traffic drugs and to smuggle guns.
"Organized gangs are not confined to our borders," added DeLaRosa. "It's a worldwide epidemic, and a growing problem in the Bahamas. Working together we can dismantle transnational gangs to ensure public safety in the region."
Next week, HSI's National Gang Unit is scheduled to conduct similar training in Anguilla, British West Indies.