March 7, 2023 | By Colin O. Jarrett |
Disrupting illicit firearms trafficking in the Caribbean is “a shared priority” for the US and its Caribbean partners.
The US Department of State said in a statement on March 1 that disrupting illegal trafficking is also “an important aspect of a co-operation to address rising levels of crime and violence in the region”. To date, it said, 12 Caribbean countries have drafted national action plans, NAPs under the auspices of the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap – developed in 2020 by the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security IMPACS and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean UNLIREC, with US support – which provides timeless and baselines for implementing the Caribbean Firearms Trafficking 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,” the statement said.
In March 2022, through Operation CITADEL, the State Department said Homeland Security Investigations HIS, the second largest criminal investigative agency in the US, deployed agents and analysts throughout the Caribbean region “to bolster firearms smuggling investigations and intelligence sharing capabilities.
As a result of Operation CITIDEL and multiple HIS-led efforts, 111 firearm-related seizures netted 466 firearms and 188,256 rounds of ammunition.
Identifying other ways the US has provided security assistance for the Caribbean, the State Department said that the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, signed into law in July 2922, “dramatically increased criminal penalties for straw purchasers and US-sourced firearms trafficking.
In November 2022, IMPACS, with US Interagency support, inaugurated the CCGIU to improve intelligence and information sharing among Caribbean and US law enforcement agencies.