WASHINGTON-ONE joint gun operation between Interpol and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Crime and Security Implementation Agency (IMPACS) resulted in the seizure of some 350 weapons, 3,300 cartridges and record shipments of drugs across the Caribbean. An operational center was hosted by CARICOM IMPACS in Barbados – officials from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Joint Regional Communications Center (JRCC), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Ordnance Disposal (ATF) and other law enforcement partners worked side by side. -by-side to provide real-time assistance during exercise.
Operation Trigger VII, which took place September 24-30, saw officers from 19 countries coordinate checks at airports, seaports, land borders and internal hotspots, acting on intelligence pointing to organized crime groups and individuals involved in firearms trafficking. Officials searched warehouses, inspected packages and carried out targeted checks at gun dealers, shooting ranges and private security companies.
Law enforcement made 510 arrests during the week-long operation, including the subject of a Interpol Red Notice wanted for murder. Trigger VII actions also led to the seizure of 10.1 tons of cocaine and 2.5 tons of cannabis, highlighting the convergence of trafficking routes and the use of firearms used to control drug trafficking .
“The positive results of this operation are a direct result of the relentless efforts and partnerships of global law enforcement officials who seek to prevent firearms, ammunition and drugs from falling into the hands of criminal organizations. transnational corporations that pose a legitimate threat to public security worldwide. said Patrick McElwain, Deputy Director of International Operations at HSI. “HSI will continue to work with its partners to investigate and arrest individuals and organizations involved in illegal arms and drug trafficking.”
Guns and bullets hidden in cereal boxes
When Dominica customs authorities x-rayed a suspicious package, they sent information to the operations center to verify the sender and intended recipient. HSI and ATF agents placed the package under surveillance after querying the respective databases and finding multiple gun purchases. When the consignee came to collect the shipment, authorities discovered 20 pistols and several cartridges hidden in cereal boxes. Investigations are continuing in the United States and Dominica.
HSI and the Royal Bahamas Police Force worked closely together on an international controlled delivery from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Nassau, Bahamas. The package, which had been flagged in the United States, was monitored throughout its shipment to seize two firearms and arrest the recipient.
Several emerging trends were identified throughout the operation. In St. Kitts and Nevis, for example, officers saw their first seizure of firearms assembled using “80%” pistol frames. Also known as ghost guns, these weapons are unsterilized and untraceable as they are often completed at home using specialized kits, allowing individuals to circumvent gun laws and controls.
Record drug seizures
Jamaican authorities, with the support of US partners, took a record fall when they intercepted 500.2 kilograms of cocaine – worth approximately US$25 million – about to be loaded into a private jet to Canada. In a separate case, law enforcement also seized 500 kilograms of cannabis.
In Curaçao, the coast guard banned vessels carrying a total of 3 tonnes of cocaine and 1.8 tonnes of cannabis. Authorities have made 17 arrests in connection with the shipments, which are believed to have originated in Venezuela. Authorities in Bonaire made similar interceptions of cocaine from Venezuela, seizing nearly 4 tons.
Several countries have reported reverse trafficking routes, an increasing trend, with seizures of cannabis from Canada and the United States to the Caribbean region. Cannabis plants, counterfeit US currency, stolen vehicles and vessels, contraband cigarettes and alcohol were also seized during the operation.
“The results of Operation Trigger VII show how clearly firearms are catalysts for most types of crime. When we pursue their weapons, we also pursue the full range of activities carried out by organized crime groups,” said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
“The results also highlight the power of what law enforcement can accomplish when we work together and in a coordinated way, sharing real-time information on cross-border investigations,” Stock added.
Lt. Col. Michael Jones, Executive Director of CARICOM IMPACS, said, “Without this cohesive action across agencies, our region will not be able to effectively combat illicit trafficking and, by extension, transnational organized crime.
Operation Trigger VII provided authorities with a better understanding of threats, patterns, trends and existing smuggling channels in the region, thereby saving lives. I am indeed proud of the role that CARICOM IMPACS played in the exercise and even more of its role as a focal point,” Jones concluded.
Stephen Kavanagh, Interpol’s Executive Director of Policing, stressed that the operation was the first joint effort between Interpol and CARICOM IMPACS against firearms and would likely yield results in the coming months as investigations continue. .
The operation was carried out as part of Objective of the Interpol projectfunded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
Participating countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, France (Guadeloupe and Martinique), Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts- and Nevis, Turks and Caicos, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname.
HSI is the primary investigative arm of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, particularly criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which commerce, travel and international finance. HSI’s workforce of more than 10,400 employees includes more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities across the United States and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative police presence overseas and one of the largest international law enforcement footprints in the United States.