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Mark Bassant

A major international firearms trafficking ring was smashed by officers of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service with the help of officers of the Customs and Excise Division when a Tacarigua businessman was held on Monday night and police recovered 25 firearm parts.

Intelligence sources involved in the operation told Guardian Media that this was an operation that officers of the Special Investigations Unit(SIU), Multi-Optional Police Section(MOPS), and Customs and Excise were covertly monitoring for several weeks with the help of US officials.

“It’s a very organised ring and now we are liaising with US officials in terms of the point of contact aboard. This seems to be a major dent in a major firearms ring.” one senior intelligence source said speaking on the condition of anonymity.

A Customs source said he was told that this was a major ring operating for some time in Trinidad and “ran undetected for quite a while.”

During the operation, officers proceeded to a part place in Tacarigua shortly after 7 pm and executed a search warrant on the premises.

The police later recovered a total of 25 firearm parts, namely nine rifle magazines, 11 pistol magazines, one AR-15 butt, one AR-15 barrel and three pistol slides, and one revolver. The 29-year-old owner of the business who was on the compound during the search was arrested by police.

Another senior police source said based on the information they received the firearm parts came in through a legitimate port and people at the port in question may have assisted in facilitating this shipment being cleared. The source said police have very little oversight at these legitimate ports of entry and believe the person or persons involved in this arms dealing ring are “well connected with long arms.”

Only recently on the National Geographic show a three-minute clip of US Customs and Border Protection in Miami profiled a cache of firearms that was intercepted on its way to Trinidad and Tobago. The officers made reference to the crime rid streets of Trinidad where most of the homicides are gun related.