Caribbean Firearms Trace Data Analysis

July 2, 2018 Crime , North America , OPINION/NEWS

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Ricardo Swire



CARICOM law enforcers generally conduct a firearm trace after weapons are recovered from a crime scene. Detectives need to know the gun’s origin to provide an investigative advantage. Trace data can link a suspect to a firearm entered as evidence in a criminal case. It can also help identify suspected traffickers and detect international gun sources, patterns and “types of crime” firearms. The US Department of Justice ATF’s Office of Strategic Intelligence & Information captured data from January 2016 to March 2017 that revealed tell-tale figures.


The ATF’s National Tracing Centre’s (NTC) information included the Caribbean top five reporting jurisdictions, Canada, Mexico and select Central American states. One Caribbean Memorandum of Understanding outlines conditions between the ATF and Trinidad & Tobago’s (T&T) Ministry of National Security. The agreement established policy and procedures relative to access and use of ATF’s eTrace 4.0 services made available to law enforcement agencies.


T&T’s Ministry of National Security’s representative identifies individuals within the Ministry who require eTrace 4.0 system access. The representative periodically validates the local user list and notifies ATF’s NTC when a user’s account is blocked or revoked. T&T’s Ministry of National Security asked for fifty-nine illegal gun traces during the period. Twenty-one were purchased by American located retailers, nine originated in a foreign country and twenty-nine guns were untraceable.


The Bahamas registered a total of two hundred and twenty-seven traces. One hundred and ninety linked to retail purchasers located in America. Four firearms originated in foreign countries and thirty-three purchasers were undetermined. The report’s “Categories and Types” varied with various gun brands. Bahamian law enforcers enquired about one hundred and ninety-two pistols, twenty-five revolvers, six rifles, seven shotguns and one “other” type of weapon.


Dominican Republic (DR) law enforcers requested five hundred and seventy-eight ATF traces or the most among Caribbean jurisdictions. One hundred and fifty-eight registered to US located retail purchasers. One hundred and sixty-two connected to foreign countries, two hundred and fifty-eight were untraceable. The DR police sent eight hundred and fifty-one pistols, one hundred and ninety-six revolvers, fifteen rifles, two hundred and thirteen shotguns plus ten other weapons for trace data. Haitian National Police (HNP) requested two hundred and three traces. Twenty-four guns associated with American based retail buyers.


The ATF’s NTC technology was unable to pinpoint one hundred and seventy-nine purchasers. Forty pistols, one revolver, five rifles, one hundred and sixty shotguns traces were requested. Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) sent three hundred and sixty-four firearms’ requests to the ATF for traces. One hundred and thirty-nine connected to US headquartered retail buyers and sixty-eight to foreign countries. One hundred and fifty-seven purchasers’ were undetermined. Three hundred and eighty-four categorized as pistols, one hundred revolvers, twenty rifles, twelve shotguns and two other weapons.


The eTrace 4.0 program operator contacts the manufacturer or importer of a suspect firearm to verify sale or ownership transfer. US Federal Firearms Licensees, whether wholesale or retail in the distribution chain, are contacted until a purchaser is identified. Additionally, if the trace process cannot proceed due to lack of accurate/incomplete information on the trace request, or in the Federal Firearms Licensee’s records. Success of a trace result, whether domestic or international, usually depends on accuracy of the supplied firearm identifiers such as manufacturer, importer, model, calibre and serial number.





Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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