Throughout the history of dangerous criminals in Jamaica, the name Joel Andem has rung a very fearful bell in the hearts of many Jamaicans.
He was known to be the leader of the very violent Gideon Warriors Gang, that operated in the communities of Land lease, Kintyre, Papine, Mud Town and August Town in the East St. Andrew area.
Andem was born in the year 1963 in the community of Bull Bay and moved to the corporate area later on in his life. He was the last of 7 children from both his parents.
As a youngster the Gideon Warriors leader attended Rollington Town Primary School then Vauxhall High secondary school for his education. He was described to be a semi-literate person by some.
His troubles with the law started in the year 1983 when he was given a huge sentence for larceny where he was also charged with illegal possession of firearm and robbery, however, was released after 8 years on parole.
After being released his street credit went up and was thereafter seen as a force to be reckoned with, never staying in one place too long.
He became infamous in the 2000s after a video was recorded with him and his gang members in the hills holding automatic rifles as the cronies praised him.
Joel caused problems with the police force for 4 years before they ever caught up with him and according to the lawmen at the time he was responsible for over 20 murders, rape, extortions, shootings and other serious crimes.
There was a sigh of relief for the officers on May 27, 2004, as that was the day when Joel was captured by a joint military-police team in the community of Clarksville, St. Ann.
He was charged at the time for two counts of murder, conspiracy to murder, 10 counts of shooting with intent, 12 counts of illegal possession of a firearm, kidnapping and aggravation.
According to the Police, the man who was said to be of iron became fragile and trembled like a leaf when apprehended by them.
Some of the victims of Andem’s Gang were people such as Sylvia Edwards who was held up at a 200,000 ransom, then shot dead and buried at University Heights in Constitution Hill, St. Andrew.
Another victim was Edwards brother, Everett Edwards who was shot across a gas station 3 days before his questioning with regards to three men held in connection with the murder of the gas station owner.
The second witness by the name of Pearl Brasco to the gas station owner’s killing was also killed and thrown in a water tank in August Town, St. Andrew.
Another of Andem’s recorded victims was constable James Thomas who was shot in Kintyre on his way to work at the Papine police station. His body was thrown into the hope river.
Joel is currently serving a 20-year sentence for shooting with intent with another 12 years with hard labour for illegal possession of a firearm and other gun-related charges that added an extra 20 years to the area leader’s time in prison.
The effects of his reign in the criminal underworld extended to his family as well as his brother, David Roper, a pastor at a revival church, was shot 9 times while on the pulpit In front of his wife and children. It remains a mystery as to why the incident occurred.
His teenage son was also found with a gun in his backpack after trying to enter his school with the machine, he was sentenced to 4 months in prison.
Other close associates of Andem such as his brother who was serving time in prison for murder, escaped from incarceration but was later recaptured.
His second in command whose name is Richie “Richie Poo ” Tindale was also given a 90-year sentence for illegal possession of a firearm, robbery with aggravation and wounding with intent.
There were also unfortunate members of the gang too as two of Andem’s men were shot down by a licensed firearm holder after they illegally tried to enter a construction site.
Even though he’s currently out of sight, Joel Andem is still remembered as one of the most dangerous criminals to ever walk the grounds of Jamaica.