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US pledges to address “big” problem of firearm trafficking in Caribbean – Guyana Times

The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has shared its glaring concern for the prevalence of firearm trafficking into the Region – an issue which the United States (US) Government has signalled its support to eradicate.

DASD for the Western Hemisphere at the United States Department of Defense, Daniel Erikson meeting Caricom Secretary General, Dr Carla Barnett

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for the Western Hemisphere at the United States Department of Defense, Daniel P Erikson met with Secretary General of Caricom, Dr Carla Barnett as part of his visit to Guyana this week.
Speaking with the media on Tuesday following these talks, the US official highlighted the underlying link to transnational criminal activities and violence.
As a result, arms trafficking has been identified as one area which will see robust action, through the deployment of prosecutorial resources and other critical assets.
“We recognise that this is a big concern throughout the Caribbean because it is tied to transnational criminal organisations and certainly tied to the overall drugs and narcotics trade that exists in the Region, and criminal violence.”
“The US Government is focused on addressing this challenge as a law enforcement issue, including providing additional prosecutorial assets to investigate cases of illegal firearms trafficking in the Caribbean,” said the Senior US Department of Defense official.

The DASD underlined that the US views transnational challenges as not just military but as legal and law enforcement challenges, requiring collective response from the Government.
He continued, “We continue to assess the situation as it evolves.”
In a 2023 joint report between Small Arms Survey and Caricom IMPACS titled: The Caribbean Firearms Study, it was found that the Caribbean Region suffers from some of the world’s highest rates of violent deaths, at almost three times the global average, as well as one of the world’s highest rates of violent deaths among women.
Firearms are used in more than half of all homicides, with this proportion reaching 90 per cent in some countries.
Small Arms Survey outlined, “While much emphasis has been placed on firearms control at both the political and operational levels, illicit firearms, and the dynamics of illicit arms markets in this Region have received little research attention. The multiple impacts of these realities on the Region can be seen via human consequences, socio-economic implications, and security challenges.”
Based on its findings using seizure and trace data, the vast majority of illicit firearms circulating in the Caribbean were handguns. While illicit rifles and rifle ammunition are emerging concerns for law enforcement officials, their use by criminals in the Caribbean remains limited.

“The US domestic market is a major source of illicit firearms and ammunition in the Caribbean, and is likely the largest source in some states and territories. That said, data gaps and ambiguities preclude a definitive assessment, and available evidence indicates that firearms are also sourced from other countries. Firearms and ammunition are trafficked from the United States to the Caribbean via commercial airliners, postal and fast parcel services, and maritime shipping companies. Although the primary transport mode varies from country to country, firearms trafficking via maritime cargo shipments is particularly common in much of the Caribbean,” the report had detailed.
Meanwhile, a range of concerns facing the regional bloc were ventilated during talks with the Caricom SG, including the Region’s security defence issues, greater maritime awareness and bringing stability to Haiti.
President Dr Irfaan Ali also met with the Assistant Secretary of Defense on Tuesday afternoon, where discussions circled around regional security, food security, climate change, information sharing, narcotics monitoring and disaster risk management. (G12)

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