navardo-hodges_web.jpgKINGSTON — Jamaican investigators found the severed head and bullet-riddled body of a man they believed was a high-ranking member of a notorious drug-and-extortion gang known for beheading victims.

A police statement said the bloody head was found Dec. 21 along a commercial strip in Spanish Town,

a southern city where violent gangs are deeply entrenched and authorities impose frequent curfews.

The head, which investigators said matched Navardo Hodges of the Clansman gang, had a bullet wound in the middle of the forehead, common for gangland executions in the troubled area. A headless body with gunshot wounds was found splayed on a nearby street.

Detectives suspect the 20-something Hodges was butchered in revenge for killing the sister of Chan Tesha Miller, the reputed Clansman leader who was sentenced in April to 15 years in prison after being convicted of robbery, assault and weapons possession.

Miller's arrest set off protests in Spanish Town, where the Clansman have long had a powerful presence.

Authorities said the decapitation appeared to be related to an ongoing power struggle within the gang which has been at war for years with the police and another group, One Order. Over the past year, the government's offensive against crime has created power vacuums within the Clansman.

Police had linked Hodges to a dozen slayings and offered a reward of nearly $6,000 for information leading to his capture.

In mid-July, a churchgoing mother and daughter were beheaded by attackers who invaded their home in the Spanish Town area near where a wanted 18-year-old Clansman member was found with his head chopped off.

To avenge a death, Jamaican gangs sometimes will murder someone who lives in a neighborhood controlled by perceived enemies and not specifically target a member of a rival gang.

Photo: Navardo Hodges