US officials warn of uptick in weapons smuggled to Haiti

Aug 17, 2022, 1:00 AM | Updated: 1:16 pm
Firearms are displayed during a news conference at the Homeland Security Investigations Miami Field...

Firearms are displayed during a news conference at the Homeland Security Investigations Miami Field Office (HSI), Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, in Miami. HSI is working with other agencies to highlight efforts to crack down on a recent increase of firearms and ammunition smuggling to Haiti and other Caribbean nations. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI (AP) — U.S. investigators say they have noticed an uptick in the amount and caliber of weapons being smuggled from Florida to Haiti in recent months.

Anthony Salisbury, chief of the Miami Homeland Security Investigations office, said agents are increasing their efforts to stop the trafficking, noting rising gang violence around Haiti’s capital.

Salisbury said the guns seized include a .50 caliber sniper rifle that military snipers use and other machine guns not usually seen. Agents have noticed an increase in caliber and volume.

“It’s incredibly disturbing,” Salisbury told The Associated Press. “In the wrong hands, these weapons are capable of causing a vast amount of destruction.

In July, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution renewing the mandate of a U.N. office in Haiti and calling on all countries to stop the transfer of small arms, light weapons and ammunition that could be fueling gang violence.

Homeland Security Investigations said it continues to investigate the uptick. The spike in violence comes as gangs grow in power following the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

But the gang wars have intensified in the past few weeks with gangs setting a church and a courthouse on fire, among other steps.

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US officials warn of uptick in weapons smuggled to Haiti