CHARLESTOWN, Nevis - IN their continuous effort to make the Federation a safer place for citizens, residents and visitors, members of the Security Forces have removed another firearm off the streets; the first for this year.
Police, over the weekend, announced that they had formally arrested and charged 36-year-old Andrez Bartlette of Cole Hill, Nevis for the offences of Possession of a Firearm and Possession of Ammunition.
Bartlette was arrested on Thursday (Jan. 5) when members of the Police and Defence Forces, during a joint operation in Gingerland, had stopped and searched the vehicle he was driving and found the illegal firearm and several rounds of matching ammunition.
In a media statement, police said he was charged on the following day and remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison.
This latest find comes against the backdrop of law enforcement and government officials in the Federation raising alarm over the number of illegal firearms being found on the streets.
Last year, Commissioner of Police Hilroy Brandy revealed that on average, over the last decade, the number of crimes committed were done using guns.
The Top Cop, while addressing Crime Scene Officers during a ceremony last year, disclosed that there were 18 homicides in 2012, 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.
He further revealed that the statistics highlighted 21 homicides were being committed on an annual basis, with 17 out of that number being carried out using firearms.
That had raised the issue of efforts to combat the illegal flow of firearms into the Federation.
During that same event, the Commissioner noted that six nationals were taken into custody in connection with gun finds in the Federation that were linked to the United States and the United Kingdom.
“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 at that time.
But the problem is not just limited to St. Kitts and Nevis.
Recently, Bahamas Prime Minister Phillip Davis had pleaded with his counterpart in the United States of America to pass legislation to combat the illicit flow of firearms from that country into his island nation and the Caribbean region.
While highlighting the problem at the time to regional Commissioners of Police, Davis spoke to the challenge the US freedom to bear arms is having on the region with guns bought by an individual in that country were involved in killings in The Bahamas.
He said that individual was linked to the purchase of 40 firearms.
“Illicit guns basically end up in the hands of criminals contributing to a high number of gun-related injuries and deaths. More than 90 percent of guns confiscated are used as murder weapons in The Bahamas can be traced back to American manufacturers and gun shops,” Davis said.
But even as regional leaders continue to discuss the issue, it continues to create both a national security crisis and economic problem for all.
Over the last decade - with the exception of 2022 - the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force had removed 249 illegal firearms off the streets of the Federation.