FILE PHOTO - The barrel of guns found at the Medway warehouse at Old Southern Main Road, off St Mary's Junction, earlier in March 2022.
RHONDOR DOWLAT-ROSTANT

The Police Service has confirmed that for the year thus far, it has seized approximately 142 illegal firearms, 24 of which are high-powered weapons.

This was revealed by the acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob during the launch of the newly formed National Operations Task Force (NOTF), on Thursday 17 March 2022.

The top cop also launched the TTPS’ Multi Agency Firearm Retrieval Initiative (MAFRI).

Ag Commissioner Jacob said in 2021, the TTPS seized 680 guns, over 50 of which were high powered weapons.

He added that the MAFRI programme has been tested during the early part of this year:

“…working with the agencies as we launch this programme, and in so doing, we have recovered 142 firearms.”

“Those firearms, 24 are already high powered. So, this demonstrates the extent [of the problem] we are dealing with,” Jacob said.

“And out of 108 murders for the year so far, 94 involved the use of firearms,” he added.

According to the top cop, the statistics are a clear indication that there is, “a serious issue with the use of firearms and it is causing murder and other serious injuries to our citizens.”

“So, it is necessary that all the agencies come together and work together to deal with this particular initiative,” he noted.  “Yes, we have the operational side of it, but it is a total joint effort to deal with this aspect of firearms,” he said.

Ag Commissioner Jacob also disclosed that the TTPS has arrested 226 persons and charged them with various firearm offences, including shooting and wounding, and possession.

“Yet the scourge continues,” he lamented.  “So, I think we can all understand and appreciate why we need to take this joint approach because it is affecting every one of us and all the various departments. [With] this effort, we will impact significantly… dealing with the aspect of and seizure of firearms in T&T,” he said.

“Recently we had a significant find where 24 firearms were seized at a bond in Couva, and again I want to thank the joint effort of the police,” the top cop said.

“In 2021 we had three such finds, so it is clear there is in fact a transnational relationship in what is happening in T&T.  And our international partners are playing an important part in the front end to assist us in this fight,” he added.