Wednesday 23 October, 2019

Vigilance at ports driving up illegal gun prices – Chang

Dr Horace Chang

Dr Horace Chang

National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang, is attributing improved vigilance of Customs in intercepting the flow of guns into the country among the factors that are responsible for driving up the price of arms in the illegal weapons trade locally.

"We know that gun price went up on the illegal market, but part of it, I strongly believe, is increased vigilance at Customs, which we have to (further) improve. We still have a way to go," the security minister argued.

He was delivering remarks at the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) Immigration Officers’ Luncheon at the Heart College of Technology and Innovation in Montego Bay, St James on Friday.

On Thursday, June 6, the police seized six handguns and 1,500 rounds of assorted ammunition at the wharf in Montego Bay, St James.

The weapons came in a shipment from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a source revealed at the time.

That seizure followed another on Tuesday, February 26, when the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch (C-TOC) confirmed the seizure of 20 firearms and over 700 rounds of ammunition at a terminal in Kingston.

The seizure was made about 10:00 a.m. during a joint operation with the Contraband Enforcement Team of Jamaica Customs, the Police High Command said in a release.

The cache of weapons included four high-powered rifles, one submachine gun, nine pistols, six revolvers and 791 assorted rounds of ammunition.

The February seizure came five months after 36 illegal weapons and assorted rounds of ammunition, multiple magazines and a silencer, were confiscated at the wharves in Kingston during a two-day operation.

But, despite the recent successes in intercepting the guns and ammunition, Dr Chang bemoaned that there is still a large number of guns in the hands of criminals locally.

"We still have whole heap of guns out there," Chang said.

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