Native Jamaicans who spend their lives abroad then retire to their homeland are being targeted by criminals, reports the Wall Street Journal. The island has one of the higher homicide rates in the world with 62 murders per 100,000 residents in 2009. Rising violence is an issue throughout the Caribbean, largely fueled by narcotics trafficking. Criminals who target returnees often wait until their monthly pension checks arrive from abroad before striking. One of the gangs preying on the returnees was led by police officers.
The number of returning retirees–1,170 last year–has dropped in half since the 1990s. Jamaica counts on retirees and their money to help pump up its troubled economy. Some 2 million Jamaicans live abroad, nearly as many as the 2.7 million who live on the island. Ronald Robinson of Jamaica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade attributed the drop in expats moving back to demographics, not crime. Crime hasn’t stopped the growth of Jamaica’s tourism industry, which generated over $1.9 billion last year, and is on track to surpass that this year. Still, crime news is widely disseminated among expats, and it is causing many U.S. Jamaicans to rethink their retirement plans.