US link to seizure of $350k of firearms, ammo at PoS port

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo of containers and cranes at the Port of Port of Spain. Customs and Excise officers seized $350,000 in guns and ammunition at the port on Friday. – JEFF K MAYERS

A former US military officer is reported to be among three people assisting in the investigation of the discovery of firearms and ammunition at the Port of Port of Spain on Friday.

Customs and Excise officials seized firearms, ammunition, firearms parts, and accessories at a transit shed located at the port. It was reported that the street value of the seized items amount to $350,000, and that the items, originating from Florida, were packed in bags labelled as personal effects.

The discovery was made during a routine examination conducted by customs officers on Friday.

Around 12.15 pm, while inspecting a barrel, the officers uncovered a Mossberg shotgun, a Glock 19 pistol, five Taurus firearms, one Ruger firearm, one M4 Crossman rifle, 182 rounds of 12 GA cartridges, 2,870 rounds of 9mm ammunition, 760 rounds of .38 calibre ammunition, 400 rounds of 7.62 ammunition, 100 rounds of .22 ammunition, 30 rounds of .40 ammunition, 500 rounds of 177 ammunition, 6,000 Crossman BBs, 16 x 9mm magazines, five beta drums, one tritium night sight, one 9mm barrel, three pistol holsters, 12 rifle slings, and four sling hooks.

Sources told Sunday Newsday some of the ammunition can pierce bullet-proof vests.

The TTPS Special Investigations Unit and Crime Scene Investigations Unit along with customs officers have launched an investigation.

National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds, when contacted, preferred not to speak on any details of the ongoing investigation.

Instead, he said the discovery has saved the lives of many citizens. “I am happy that on this occasion that police and other intelligence agencies, worked together to make this happen. I’m very pleased they were successful on this occasion in protecting the people of TT in the mayhem and murder that these objects would otherwise have caused.

“Given the number of murders, shooting and robberies and assaults and all the crimes that take place with and around firearms – including trafficking – the police as law enforcement has a major plank of its efforts in a gun retrieval exercise and we see what happened recently in the context of that. I call on the citizens in TT as we complain about the number of murders to understand it is the presence of guns that is causing that and the government, acting internationally along with other leaders within the Caricom region, who have been dealt with it on a governmental level – police and law enforcement have to deal with it on a national level.”

Commenting on the recent gang-related murders over the past week, Hinds said, “I am confident that this kind of seizure will protect not only those of us who are not involved in rivalry and gang but even those who are involved.”

Hinds said he awaits the outcome of the investigation.

Gun-related crime was the focus of two recent Caricom meetings, including the heads of government conference, two weeks ago where US officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed the impact of gun-trafficking in the region.