THE ST James police are monitoring the United States’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention of dancehall artiste Andre ‘Squash’ Whittaker, as it may have security implications for the already troublesome western division, which is currently under a state of public emergency (SOE).
Squash, who was arrested close to two weeks ago in Florida, is an influential figure who deejays his association with the MoBay-based G-City Gang.
Checks indicated that up to yesterday, the artiste was in detention at the Krome North Service Processing Center in Florida. He is reportedly being held on immigration-related offences after overstaying a work petition. Squash was reportedly first granted permission to perform for fee in the US in 2019. There has been no record of him returning to Jamaica since.
Florida’s Governor Republican Ron DeSantis recently signed a Senate bill to clamp down on illegal immigration.
In the meantime, Superintendent of Police Eron Samuels, who is in charge of operations in St James, said that the police are aware of the entertainer’s latest run-in with US law enforcement.
“We are monitoring. However, I will have to speak to my crime officer to determine that status of investigations impacting Andre ‘Squash’ Whittaker,” he said.
Squash, who is from Salt Spring in the parish, is no stranger to detention. He was detained in August 2018 under a St James SOE. He was held for five months without charge before being released in January 2019. He later left the country to perform in the US.
Since then, the deejay has been named in Florida court documents for his affiliation to a double murder. US investigators connected the incident to an ongoing Lauderhill, Florida gang war to have originated in St James.
Following that double killing, Samuels told The Gleaner: “We do believe that there will be implications on local soil. We have increased our policing activities in the areas we believe may be impacted.”
Since the start of the year, the St James Police Division recorded a 35.7 per cent decline in murders up to April 30.
Meanwhile, residents in Salt Spring have taken note of developments involving the artiste.
“Everybody is talking. We don’t know what will happen if he gets deported. The place is a bit different since he was last here. Everybody remember what happened and is still happening, the many lives lost and several persons have been displaced, who move out from who run weh gone cross the border,” a resident told The Gleaner.
Squash is known for many popular songs, including Foot, Rate who rate you and Sweepstakes Life.