And so, the worst kind of record has been set on the Southside - which has recorded more than 10 murders in a month for the first time ever. In the City, there have been 53 murders so far in 2017, which is also a record - and we're only in October. That eclipses the previous high in 2014 when there were a total of 48 murders for the entire 12 months of the year.
29 of those 2017 murders have come in the past four months - since Senior Superintendent Marco Vidal has been at the command. We asked him directly today if he is to blame:...
Jules Vasquez, reporter
"Mr. Vidal, there has been 12 murders recorded in October on the southside. This is a new high. I think the previous record was 10 and under your tenure since July there have been 29 murders, which is also a quite high figure in 4 months. Explain to me how do you react to this, do you feel any personal accountability or culpability for this?"
Sr. Supt. Marco Vidal, Commander - Eastern Division South
"Absolutely I take no culpability for this, for the simple reason that has been explained for some time now that these incidents have arisen as a result of an internal eruption of the gangs who have for whatever reason they have decided that they should sell drugs and expand the sale of drugs and whilst we have the expansion of the sale of drugs, obviously people armed themselves and in people arming themselves they will protect turf or they will try to gain other turfs. So in doing these things, we see that eventually what would have been certain level of friendship turned out into enemy rivalry, because of the same sale of drugs."
"It has been repeatedly said that these incidents are the result of the expansion of the sale of drugs, the quality of drugs that is on the streets. As you would know better than I do that the quality is what is called "Kush" and this is not grown locally, it is something imported. It is costly, so the loss of those products, someone would have to pay for those products and when they can't pay, then there will be deaths for these things."
"It happened whilst I am in command, yes it has happened, but in terms of taking any personal responsibility - I cannot take any personal responsibility, because I am not responsible for any of those things."
"We will continue to police our area and we will strategized and continue to strategize to target these very people who are committing these crimes."
"Do you see your job on the ground as being made a little more difficult because you are decriminalizing marijuana soon? People will want marijuana and then you are cutting off the supply. Do you see that making your job a little harder?"
Sr. Supt. Marco Vidal
"Well it becomes more complicated and more challenging, but I think we have to look at everything and then re-strategized based on those situations."
Of course this narrative about expensive Kush - when it is passed off by police and politicians alike with such offhanded certainty, we immediately doubt it. And that's because while it has the veneer of a nice little intelligence-based intrigue, our analysis suggest that it's just not true, it's police fiction - and one that does a disservice and an insult to grieving families.
Just looking at the 11 murders recorded on the southside in October:
Weed wars certainly didn't cause to the death of taxi man Odner Estiverne; and neither did it lead to the death of Cardinal Andrews.
Sydney Lamb was robbed, while best sources say Shaqwan Almendarez owed a debt, maybe to persons who sold drugs, but not for drugs.
82 year old Ricardo Vasquez was robbed; Erwin Rodriguez was killed as the result of a gang rivalry, and the same for Keith Middleton - both in the Jane Usher area. Jason Almendarez, again, best sources suggest, was not killed because of drugs, while Daniel Anderson was killed in a fight at a party.
Since police are now freely and openly discussing their intelligence, and passing it off as the driver for the spike in murders, we would challenge them to prove how this narrative fits into the current spate of murders.