US warns against travel to Jamaica and Bahamas amid violent crimes – Straight Arrow News

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Lauren Taylor
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Friday
By Lauren Taylor (Anchor), Evan Hummel (Producer), Zachary Hill (Video Editor)
In response to a reported wave of violent crime, the U.S. State Department issued travel advisories for Jamaica and the Bahamas in late January. Jamaica’s travel advisory is more stringent than the Bahamas’, stating that tourists should “reconsider travel,” while the Bahamas’ advisory suggests that tourists should “exercise increased caution.”
The State Department noted that despite fewer homicides in 2024 than in 2023, Jamaica’s murder rate remains one of the “highest in the Western Hemisphere.” The agency also cited a rise in armed muggings and sexual violence in both countries.
According to the Jamaica Constabulary Force, there were 109 homicides between Jan. 1 and Feb. 3 of 2023. In 2024, there were 84 homicides within that same time period.
However, it’s not just murder that is a concern when it comes to violent crime. The State Department also warned that ambulances in Jamaica are not readily available, and they may lack properly trained personnel. Additionally, public hospitals are reported to be under-resourced, and private hospitals often require payment upfront.
The advisory also mentioned that sexual assaults “occur frequently” in Jamaica, including at “all-inclusive resorts.”
In the Bahamas, the State Department warned of a spike in gang-related murders, burglaries, robberies and sexual assaults. Sexual crimes are reported to be on the rise in both tourist and non-tourist areas of the Bahamas.
Two mothers from Kentucky, unaware of the advisories, took a trip on a Carnival cruise ship on Feb. 4. They disembarked to visit Pirates Cove Zipline and Water Park in Freeport, where they allege they were raped by two staffers, according to Good Morning America. The resort has refuted the allegations following a review of surveillance video, according to a report by Fox News.
According to LEX 18, the Kentucky women are receiving preventative medical treatment, including a preventative HIV medication that costs nearly $4,000. They also shared words of caution for anyone traveling to The Bahamas.
“Be safe. Two is not a group. Do not buy any drinks unless they come in a sealed container,” Amber Shearer and Dongayla Dobson said.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force announced the arrest of two men in connection with the rape charges on Wednesday, Feb. 7. In a Facebook post the police force said it is working with the FBI regarding the ongoing investigation.
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The rape allegations follow a security alert from the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, issued on Jan. 24, stating that 18 murders had occurred at the beginning of the year with most related to gang violence.
The State Department advises travelers to take additional safety steps if traveling abroad, including “keeping a low profile” and avoiding secluded places, public buses and walking or driving at night.
NPR reports that the agency recommends downloading the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which sends alerts to users’ phones and helps law enforcement find them in case of an emergency.
Leaders in Jamaica and the Bahamas are pushing back against the travel advisories.
“Overall, the crime rate against visitors to Jamaica remains extremely low at 0.01%,” the Jamaica Tourist Board said in a statement to Travel Weekly.
The board added that the places of concern are “very distinctly defined areas,” and that most of the region “remains unaffected.”
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[LAUREN TAYLOR]
A DREAM VACATION FOR MILLIONS– TAKE YOUR PICK– THE BAHAMAS OR JAMAICA– OR MAYBE DON’T.
U-S OFFICIALS ARE URGING WOULD-BE VACATION-GOERS– NOT TO TRAVEL TO THESE TROPICAL PARADISES.
WHY?
MURDER.
THE U-S STATE DEPARTMENT REPORTS THE HOMICIDE RATE IN JAMAICA IS “AMONG THE HIGHEST IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE.”
IT’S NOT JUST MURDER. THE FEDS WARN JAMAICA’S AMBULANCES ARE NOT READILY AVAILABLE, HOSPITALS ARE UNDER-RESOURCED, MANY REQUIRING PAYMENT UPFRONT. PLUS, SEXUAL ASSAULTS OCCUR FREQUENTLY, “INCLUDING AT ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORTS.”
IN THE BAHAMAS, THERE’S BEEN A SPIKE OF GANG-RELATED MURDERS.   BURGLARIES, ARMED ROBBERIES AND SEXUAL CRIMES ARE ON THE RISE IN BOTH TOURIST AND NON-TOURIST AREAS, THE U-S WARNS.
TWO MOTHERS FROM KENTUCKY VACATIONING IN THE BAHAMAS WERE UNAWARE OF THE ADVISORIES. NOW SAYING THEY ARE TWO OF THE LATEST VICTIMS. THE PAIR TELLING A LOCAL KENTUCKY STATION OF THE TRIP – ACCUSING TWO STAFFERS AT A RESORT OF SPIKING THEIR DRINKS AT A RESORT– AND RAPING THEM. NOW, THE WOMEN HAVE WORDS OF CAUTION FOR ANYONE CONSIDERING A TRIP TO THE BAHAMAS.
[AMBER SHEARER/DONGAYLA DOBSON]
“Be safe. Two is not a group. Do not buy any drinks that come unless they come in a sealed container, in a bottle.”
[LAUREN TAYLOR]
THE ROYAL BAHAMAS POLICE SAID OFFICERS HAVE ARRESTED TWO MEN IN CONNECTION WITH THE RAPES– AND ARE REPORTED TO BE WORKING WITH F-B-I.
THE RESORT HAS REFUTED THE PAIR’S CHARGES BASED ON ITS REVIEW OF SURVEILLANCE VIDEO.
THE INCIDENT FOLLOWS A U-S SECURITY ALERT IN LATE JANUARY, WARNING OF A STRING OF GANG-RELATED MURDERS.  THE U-S EMBASSY SAYING THE SLAYINGS “OCCURRED AT ALL HOURS INCLUDING IN BROAD DAYLIGHT.”
RIGHT NOW, STATE DEPARTMENT LISTS THE BAHAMAS AT TWO-OUT-FOUR– ON THE TRAVEL ADVISORY SCALE– INDICATING TOURISTS SHOULD ‘EXERCISE INCREASED CAUTION.”
IN JAMAICA, THE LEVEL IS EVEN HIGHER AT A “THREE”– URGING
VACATIONERS TO “RECONSIDER TRAVEL.”
THE AGENCY TOLD N-P-R IF TRAVEL IS STILL IN THE CARDS:
–TO KEEP A LOW PROFILE–
–AVOID SECLUDED PLACES– PUBLIC BUSES
– AND DRIVING OR WALKING AT NIGHT.
OFFICIALS ARE ASKING AMERICANS TO JOIN THE SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM, WHICH SENDS ALERTS AND HELPS LAW ENFORCEMENT FIND YOU IN CASE OF EMERGENCY.
LEADERS IN THE BAHAMAS AND JAMAICA ARE PUSHING BACK AGAINST THE ADVISORIES.
THE JAMAICA TOURIST BOARD TOLD N-P-R:
“OVERALL, THE CRIME RATE AGAINST VISITORS TO JAMAICA REMAINS EXTREMELY LOWER AT 0.01 PERCENT.”
ADDING THE PLACES OF CONCERN ARE “VERY DISTINCTLY DEFINED AREAS” AND MOST OF THE REGION “REMAINS UNAFFECTED.”
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