Fifteen firearms, 12 magazines and 963 live rounds of ammunition hidden in several items in a cargo container on the port were recovered by members of the Customs and Excise division last week.
At a press conference held by the Customs Division and the Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force (CDPF) this morning, Assistant Commissioner of Police Davison Valerie reported that on Thursday February 3, 2022, Customs Officers intercepted a consignment of goods during a routine check at Woodbridge Bay Port.
He said during the inbound examination operation, several pistols, assault rifles, magazines and a large quantity of ammunition were hidden in a large cargo box within items which included “containers of Folgers Coffee, Nesquik chocolate powder, Pink Lemonade powder, and also in an IQ Bluetooth speaker box.”
Valarie said the items seized are now in police custody at Police Headquarters.
“It is interesting to note the extent to which the perpetrators would go to conceal illegal goods and disguise their criminal acts. One man has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking firearms and importation of firearms,” the Assistant Commissioner stated.
He further disclosed that a request for assistance into the investigation of the importation of the firearms and ammunition into Dominica has been made to the United States authorities and appealed to the general public for their continued support and cooperation in fighting crime in Dominica.
Comptroller of Customs, Roderick Deschamp, in his remarks at the briefing, said the seizure of the weapons demonstrates his division’s commitment to their task and constitutes an outstanding job by Customs Officers.
“I want here to commend my staff who, under very difficult circumstances, continue to work tirelessly to balance the need for facilitating legitimate trade, while ensuring that the division can interdict individuals determined to circumvent our laws,” Deschamps stated.
He added, “This weapon seizure denies the intended manipulators the use of such weapons to undertake criminal activity in our country. A friend always tells me that every illegal firearm off the street is a human life saved.”
Deschamp further averred that the Customs Division continues to work in close cooperation with the Dominica Air and Sea Port Authority (DASPA) as well as sister law enforcement agencies locally, regionally and internationally to ensure a collaborative effort in curbing the trafficking of illegal weapons and drugs into Dominica.
The Customs Comptroller also posited that a close relationship with the CDPF over the last two years has borne great results in protecting Dominica’s borders.
With the introduction of several new units, training for staff and strengthened cooperation Dominica’s border agency partners, Deschamp pledged the Customs Division’s continued efforts to find ways to reform and modernize its operations, especially as it relates to cargo and passenger examination.
He said an upgrade to the latest version of a cargo management software, as well as the introduction of non-intrusive cargo and baggage examination equipment at the ports are two critical areas tremendous progress has been made and thanked the government for providing the software.
“The Customs Division is determined to carry out its mandate to not only collect the revenue, but to safeguard our society and we will continue to work diligently with other stakeholders to mitigate the harm that such illegal activities may have on our beloved Island Dominica,” the Customs Chief stated.
Though the police revealed that one male individual is in custody assisting with their investigation, a charge has not been preferred against this person; hence, his name was not disclosed.
The fifteen firearms seized include 4 taurus 9mm pistol, two Glock 23 40 caliber pistols, one Glock 17 9mm pistol, one FNS 9mm pistol, one Springfield 9mm pistol, one Kel-tec sub-2000 9mm rifle, one Maple 7.62 rifle, one AK 47, one Smith and Wesson 5.56 rifle, one radical team Inc. rifle, one only hybrid rifle, and 12 magazines.
The ammunition which was recovered includes 657 9mm rounds, 50.223 rounds and two 76.556 live rounds.