US officials seize over 300 guns bound for Caribbean Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

An operation headed by the US Department of Homeland Security resulted in the seizure of 318 firearms, 314 magazines, and almost 20,000 rounds of ammunition bound for CARICOM member states.

Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday following his return from the 46th CARICOM Heads of Government Conference, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said over half a million shipments were inspected during the exercise, called Operation Hammerhead, which was led by US Homeland Security in 2023.

The exercise took place over the course of three weeks in September 2023 in an effort to crack down on the illicit firearms trade between the US and CARICOM member states.

He said as of data received in January 2024, during the operation, 600,000 packages destined for CARICOM were assessed and given increased scrutiny.

Of that number, 4,600 were deemed to require enhanced inspection, and following these inspections, 318 firearms, 314 magazines and 19,270 founds of ammunition were found bound for the Caribbean.

“One can only envisage what that would have added to the horror that we’re already experiencing. As a result of that exercise…we initiated and supported, 25 international firearms trafficking cases and indictments and arrests are anticipated for several persons in the United States.

“There is a positive outcome to be had by working alongside the United States at the source end of the supply of the guns and ammunition. That is not what we picked up here…[it was detected] at that other end that was destined for us.”

He said enhanced training in collaboration with The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and other entities is also being undertaken for national security personnel in dealing with these issues.

“We’re being told by IMPACS that the threat being posed by obsolete and unsecured weapons is a threat.”  

He said other CARICOM states are also trying to reduce the threat of unsecured and obsolete weapons within the country; the initiative is being funded by the UK government.

The US government has launched several initiatives to address firearms trafficking, including at the legislative level, with the signing into law of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to dramatically increase criminal penalties for straw purchasers and US-sourced firearms trafficking.