Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami announced Aug. 17 efforts to curb the increased flow of weapons, weapon parts and ammunition to Haiti and the Caribbean. Anthony Salisbury, special agent in charge of HSI Miami, along with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) partners made the announcement.
“HSI and our partners will investigate and seek to prosecute any individuals involved in illegal arms trafficking,” said Salisbury. “Today we make it very clear that the United States, and in particular south Florida, is not open for business regarding the illegal trafficking of weapons.”
Partners included: Vernon T. Foret, director, field operations Miami/Tampa field offices; U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); Rear Admiral Brendan C. McPherson, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District; Timothy Emerick deputy director, Southeast Region, CBP Air and Marine Operations; Walter N. Slosar, chief patrol agent Miami Border Patrol Sector; Michelle Alvarez, first assistant U.S. attorney for Southern District of Florida; Jonathan Carson acting special agent in charge U.S. Department of Commerce Miami Field Office, Bureau of Industry and Security; Tyra J. Cunningham assistant special agent in charge Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and Maj. Fernand Charles, Miami Dade Police Department (MDPD), Organized Crime Bureau.
Over the last three months, HSI has seen a substantial increase in the number of weapons, along with a serious increase on the caliber and type of firearms, being illegally trafficked. Some of those weapons include .50 caliber sniper rifles, 308 rifles, and a belt fed machine gun.
In the wrong hands, these weapons could cause mass casualties. Because of this, HSI and counterparts within DHS, Department of Commerce, ATF, MDPD, and the U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Florida are vigorously pursuing this issue and implementing countermeasures. These measures include extra resources within HSI Miami, primarily through our Border Enforcement Security Taskforce (BEST) groups, charged with combating emerging and existing Transnational Criminal Organizations and increased inspections of U.S. export shipments to ensure compliance with federal export laws.
Agencies are also leveraging information developed from investigations and partnerships with foreign customs officials and police to target shipments and individuals that may be engaged in smuggling. These efforts not only concern the physical movement of illegal weapons but also the financial flows that support this illicit activity.
HSI recognizes this is an effort that goes well beyond law enforcement capabilities, which is why it encourages anyone with information about cross-border weapons trafficking to contact HSI at the HSI Tip-Line by calling 866-347-2423. Tips can be anonymous and there is potential reward money for accurate information. For more information on HSI Miami, follow @HSI_Miami.