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Regional and International joint operations led to 500 arrests across 19 countries; authorities seized 350 weapons and 12.6 tonnes of narcotics

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): A multi-agency drug enforcement and weapons seizure operation has netted record gains against organised crime in the region.

St. Kitts and Nevis was one of 19 countries involved in a joint firearms operation between INTERPOL and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS).

Officers involved in the operation seized a cache of 350 weapons, 3,300 rounds of ammunition and recorded drug hauls across the Caribbean.

The joint operation called Operation Trigger VII was carried out between September 24 – 30, where law enforcement coordinated controls at airports, seaports, land borders and inland hotspots.

Operation Trigger VII acted on intelligence against organised crime groups and individuals involved in firearms trafficking.

In a statement, Interpol reported making a total of 510 arrests during the week-long operation, including the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice wanted for murder.

Throughout the operation, the authorities seized 10.1 tonnes of cocaine and 2.5 tonnes of cannabis, highlighting the convergence of trafficking routes and the use of firearms to control the illegal drug trade.

The inter-governmental organisation provided emerging trends for trafficking in the region.

In St Kitts and Nevis, officers seized firearms assembled using 80 percent pistol frames or ghost guns – unserialised and untraceable firearms often assembled at home using specialised kits, allowing individuals to bypass gun laws and checks.

In Dominica, customs x-rayed a suspicious package, sent information to the operational hub for checks on the sender and intended recipient. The authorities placed the package under surveillance, and when the recipient came to collect the shipment, police discovered 20 pistols and multiple rounds of ammunition hidden in cereal boxes.

Jamaican authorities and the US made a record-setting drug bust in Jamaica, where 500.2 kg of cocaine – worth approximately USD 25 million – was about to be loaded onto a private jet bound for Canada.

Three tonnes of cocaine and 1.8 tonnes of cannabis were found in a vessel by the Coast Guard in Curaçao. Authorities made 17 arrests in connection with the shipments, believed to have originated in Venezuela.

Interpol said several countries reported reverse trafficking routes, an increasing trend, with seizures of cannabis coming from Canada and the United States into the Caribbean region.

The operational hub was hosted by CARICOM IMPACS in Barbados. Officers from INTERPOL, the Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC), the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) worked side-by-side to provide real-time assistance to officers in the field.

Participating countries included Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, Curacao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Turks and Caicos, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.

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