OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON
MARCH 1, 2023
Addressing Firearms Trafficking is a U.S.-Caribbean Priority
- Disrupting illicit firearms trafficking in the Caribbean is a shared priority for the United States and our Caribbean partners, and an important aspect of our cooperation to address rising levels of crime and violence in the region.
- Raised as a top priority by Caribbean partners in the May 2022 Caribbean-U.S. Security Cooperation Dialogue, U.S. security assistance through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative includes building regional capacity to disrupt illicit firearms trafficking.
- Signed into law in July 2022, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act dramatically increased criminal penalties for straw purchasers and U.S.-sourced firearms trafficking.
- Provisions under the “Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act” assign further penalties for smuggled firearms or ammunition out of the United States with intent to promote transnational organized crime.
Caribbean Crime Gun Intelligence Unit (CCGIU):
- In November 2022, the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), with U.S. interagency support, inaugurated the CCGIU to improve intelligence and information sharing among Caribbean and U.S. law enforcement agencies.
- The CCGIU supports CARICOM Member States with seizing firearms, related parts, and components as well as in identifying, charging, and prosecuting co-conspirators for firearms crimes.
- The CCGIU works with U.S. and international law enforcement partners including the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), UK National Crime Agency (NCA), INTERPOL, and the Regional Security System (RSS).
U.S. Investigative and Capacity-Building Support to the Caribbean
- U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) attachés in Jamaica, The Bahamas, and Trinidad investigate firearms trafficking cases with partner-country law enforcement agencies and U.S. investigators.
- U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) enforces U.S. export laws and investigates firearms and ammunition smuggling operations violating these laws.
- The United States supports projects by the World Customs Organization, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and the International Organization for Migration to increase port and border security to combat illicit trafficking.
- In May 2019, CARICOM Heads of Government formally adopted the Caribbean Firearms Trafficking Priority Actions, which consist of a list of reforms and regional engagements identified by U.S. and Caribbean experts to effectively address firearms trafficking within the region.
- In 2020, with U.S. support, the CARICOM Implementational Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) developed the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap. This framework provides timelines and baselines for implementing the Caribbean Firearms Trafficking Priority Actions.
- To date, 12 Caribbean countries have drafted national action plans (NAPs) under the auspices of the Firearms Roadmap and Priority Actions. The United States stands ready to help countries implement their individualized priorities, plans, and timelines upon completion of their respective national action plans.
- In March 2022, through Operation CITADEL, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) deployed agents and analysts throughout the Caribbean Region to bolster firearms smuggling investigations and intelligence sharing capabilities. HSI Operation CITADEL efforts and multiple HSI-led international controlled deliveries resulted in 111 firearm related seizures, to include 446 firearms and 188,256 rounds of ammunition.
- In September 2022, law enforcement officers from 19 Caribbean countries along with INTERPOL; CARICOM; World Customs Organization; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); and HSI cooperated on a joint operation that led to the seizure of 350 weapons, 3,300 rounds of ammunition, and 10 tons of cocaine.