Georgetown; – More than a decade after the death of notorious prison escapee Shawn Brown, and close to a decade since the death of his criminal cohort Rondell ‘Fine man’ Rollins (once classified as Guyana’s most wanted criminal), along with Andrew Douglas and two other felons; their criminal remnants and the youths that were inspired by them, continue to create repeated rounds of headache for the police and the prison system as a whole.
Many adequately aged Guyanese should be able to recall that after the infamous Mash Day prison escape in 2002, it was Andrew Douglas who took up the role as de facto gang leader, and profess himself to be a liberator of the oppressed.
Choosing to attire himself like Osama Bin Laden’s Taliban soldiers out of Afghanistan, Douglas sported a headscarf that was reminiscent of Bin Laden, along with an AK 47 rifle, which he displayed during a video statement that was widely broadcasted and transcribed by the local media.
The video which had later found its way onto the YouTube channel, attracted hundreds of thousands of views and support from insurgents from around the world, before it was subsequently removed by Google; supposedly after the United States considered it a potential regional security issue.
However, many Guyanese who had felt oppressed by the State during that time had supported Douglas along with his gang which included Fine Man, Dale Moore and Shawn Brown, who were all later able to easily attract dozens of gullible youths to join their gang.
As a matter of fact, many youths including teenage girls and underage boys at the time had aligned themselves as a “Taliban”; – the name that was adapted by the gang, and which was also a slang that reinforced the public’s sympathy to the local grouping; while Taliban-slogan songs that were often released out of Jamaica made the sympathy task easier.
But after security agents from the United States allegedly approached gang leader Douglas and possibly promised him some concessions, the Buxtonian subsequently denounced unnecessary violence and expressed a preference to negotiate with the State.
Former youth members of the gang had claimed that Douglas subsequently urged his gang members to lay down their arms, and they would be allowed to live peacefully in the backlands.
However, some sources claimed that the men rejected this at a meeting in Agricola; which later led to Dale Moore killing Douglas on the 26 August 2002, after contending that he had diverted from the objectives of the group.
Douglas’ family members were later contacted to uplift his body which was neatly wrapped in a white sheet, and placed in a parked stolen car along the East Bank carriageway.
Once Douglas was out of the picture, many of the youths were then trained into harden criminals by Moore and subsequently by Fine Man, after the death of Moore and Brown.
With Fineman left to hold on to the leadership role of the gang, he followed a path that was as brutal as the Taliban, and ensured that he took a number of youths on his many criminal escapades.
But it was the Lusignan and Bartica massacres that shook the nation, and subsequently force the police to bury their fears, and hunt down the gang with better support from the army.
Overtime, Fine Man was ambushed and killed on the 28 August 2008, while some of the youths that were under his tutelage were captured and brought to trial for their alleged crimes.
Among the subsequently arrested youths were Mark Royden Williams, Sherwin Nero, and Stafrei Hopkinson; – the very men who allegedly instigated and started the fire at the Camp Street prison on the 9 July 2017, resulting in their successful escape just like their criminal educators had done in 2002.
While it can be confirmed that most of the escapees were convicts who sprung up under Fine Man’s tutelage, there are still many other criminal protégés of the dead gang leader that are definitely unknown to the police. And even though there is a handful of them that the police may have known about, law enforcement authorities are said to be lacking any real evidence to arrest them for a crime.
But as long as those men are in the shadows, there is no doubt that the criminal legacy of Fine Man and Shawn Brown would continue to be a revolving migraine headache for the rule of law in Guyana, for many years to come.