BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - A major illegal gun smuggling ring that has tied firearms to murders in St. Kitts and Nevis has been busted, and two nationals were charged, convicted and sentenced in the United States in connection with the bust.
In a report by American media entity 11Alive out of Georgia, two nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis, a 25-year-old and a 30-year-old, were charged with exporting approximately 40 firearms through the US Postal Service.
It was reported that several of the weapons were found in the UK and St. Kitts and “were tied to various criminal networks abroad”.
Over the last several years, concerns were raised regarding the number of illegal firearms found on the streets of St. Kitts and Nevis, with questions of how they had arrived in the Federation.
At a January graduation exercise, Commissioner of Police Hilroy Brandy had indicated that their investigations resulted in six nationals being charged in the United Kingdom and the United States for gun crimes.
“...six of our own citizens were arrested and [put] in prison in the United States and England. That is why I say if we continue to work as a team and we continue to share the information, and to share the technology, we all will be successful,” Brandy said back then.
While reiterating the fact that the Federation does not produce guns, the Top Cop had called on the other law enforcement agencies to update their hiring policies in order to weed out those with ulterior motives.
All of this comes against the backdrop of the Federation averaging double digit homicides annually over the last decade: in 2012 there were 18 homicides, 21 in 2013, 24 in 2014, 29 in 2015, 32 in 2016, 23 in 2017, 23 in 2018, 12 in 2019, 10 in 2020 and 13 in 2021.
“I call these figures so we can relate to the amount of homicides that have been committed in our Federation for the last 10 years. And on an average, we have been seeing 21 homicides,” he noted.
Out of that average average of 21, 17 homicides were committed by firearms. Over that same period, 249 firearms of various forms and calibres were handed over or removed from the streets of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“In terms of recovery of firearms, in 2012 there were three, 18 in 2013, 23 in 2014, 23 in 2015, 34 in 2016, 43 in 2017, 37 in 2018, 44 in 2019, 17 in 2020 and seven in 2021,” Brandy disclosed.
Meanwhile, 11Alive reported that the trio falsely claimed to be the original buyers of the weapons before they were shipped through the mail to St. Kitts-Nevis and the United Kingdom. The 25-year-old from the Federation would then remove the firearm serial number.
He received a four-year-three-month sentence along with a three-year supervised sentence.
The 30-year-old, according to the media outlet, was sentence to four years and nine months as well as a similar supervisor release.