The Caribbean Gun Trade 2021

From the first oil boom of the 1970s the gun trade from the USA went into a boom as demand for hardware in T&T way outstripped supply. This 1970s boom sucked in a plethora of small hustlers who flew to New York, Miami etc purchasing hardware, hid it in a variety of goods as dryers, washing machines, speaker enclosures etc etc to get it past Customs T&T. Miami was the boom town for supply and it remains the main exporter of illicit guns to the Caribbean and Latin America given its lax gun laws. New York’s rigid gun laws has always spawned a market where demand runs down supply seen in the high illicit gun prices. The Saturday night special was then invented where you drive to Georgia buy the product legally and smuggle it into New York. To be a viable gun exporter in New York you must have supply flowing into New York to you which you then export to T&T. You have then to be connected, a part of organized crime even transnational organized crime. Saturday night specials and waiting for supply to purchase on New York’s illicit gun market to then export to T&T means you are a small operator expendable, cannon fodder in the GAME. In Florida it is an entirely different reality, you have the agents , the gun shows, an entirely legal structure that allows legal purchases but the problem is legal exports. You then export illegally which puts you on the radar of the ATFE but the ATFE is not noted for its leading edge structure necessary to dance with the volume of illicit exports. From the 1970s the demand was for handguns and ammunition which allowed competition from the Latin American gun boats who then introduced a stable supply of AK-47s, hand grenades, RPGs, bullet proof vests etc. in the late 20th Century and especially during the early 21st Century an arms war hit T&T gangland as AR-15s from the USA changed the balance of firepower in gangland constituting a feeding frenzy for the AR-15. This frenzy re-awakened interest in the US gun supply given the abundance of this weapon in the US, the cost of acquisition and the fact that the supply from Colombia was not competitively priced. The demand for the AR-15 resulted then in composite shipments of AR-15s, handguns, ammunition, parts for guns, etc flooding into T&T. These shipments are for gangland and the illicit gun market where persons are supposedly buying multiple firearms and assault rifles for personal protection. The supply side of the gun market given this product preference has now directed gun smugglers to Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic. The MTTOs remain way ahead of the competition in the acquisition and utilization of small arms in its business model and it is this business model that kick started the arms race in T&T. The MTTOs purchase semi-finished parts of the AR-15 in the US export these parts and finish them in machine shops, where the completed AR-15 is assembled which is a clean gun, it has no serial number, no legal registration, it can only be marked by its ballistic signature and there are counter measures for that. The importation of gun parts and its final assembly into guns in the US Virgin Islands for sale on the illicit market has been interdicted.

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