Bullet passes through two US airports

| 23/09/2015 | 59 Comments
Cayman News Service

Owen Roberts International Airport

(CNS): Cayman’s custom bosses and the local magistrates are raising their concerns that too many visitors are making it through US airports and arriving in Cayman with ammunition in their bags. A US national who had been visiting the Cayman Islands this month on honeymoon with his new wife was detained at the airport at the weekend when officers found a bullet in his bag. The man was the twelfth visitor this year charged with an ammunition offence.

The 38-year-old man appeared in Summary Court Tuesday and was fined $1,000 after admitting having .40-caliber round of ammunition in his hand luggage at the airport. A hunter and licensed firearms holder in his home state of California, the visitor told the court that he did not know the bullet was in his bag but he had passed through airports in San Francisco and Georgia without the ammunition being picked up.

The magistrate raised his concerns about the incidences of visitors arriving in Cayman with illegal ammunition, which is found by local customs and security staff but seemingly ignored by their American counterparts.

On a previous occasion when a visitor passed through Cayman with ammunition and ended up in Summary Court, Magistrate Valdis Foldats summed up the concern regarding the casual approach to lethal weapons, saying, “It boggles the mind that people have ammunition in backpacks and don’t even know it.”

Customs has said, however, that it is stepping up its effort to stop this usually unintentional importation by tourists and is considering new signs at the airport and on board aircrafts about the laws in Cayman.

Assistant Collector of Customs for Enforcement Jeff Jackson told Cayman27 that officers were also considering the creation of an ‘amnesty room’ in the arrivals hall.

“One suggestion that is being considered is the creation of an amnesty room in the airport just prior to entering the customs control area, where it gives travellers an opportunity to deposit items such as ammunition,” he said.

Meanwhile, in addition to the accidental importation of bullets by US tourists who are not checking their hunting bags before travelling to Cayman, customs officers stopped a local police officer as he tried to leave the airport  last year with not just ammunition but a handgun. Concerns have been raised that Detective Inspector Lauriston Burton was given special treatment when he turned up at Owen Roberts International Airport with the gun in his luggage, claiming he had forgotten it was there.

It is now more almost one year since the gun was confiscated but the officer has never been arrested and remains on active duty. At the time the gun was discovered Burton claimed he was carrying the firearm in error, having forgotten he was supposed to drop it off at another location. Customs officers decided not to arrest him, allowing him to continue his journey, and passed the issue over to the RCIPS to deal with administratively.

The police said at the time that Burton’s licence was suspended and police management was investigating the matter but there have been no updates regarding what consequences, if any, the officer has faced. At the time a spokesperson for the RCIPS stated that when it was completed, the file would be forwarded to the director of public prosecutions.

Earlier this year, the independent member for North Side said it was unacceptable that the officer was not treated to the same lawful procedures that a civilian would have been. Emphasising that no one is above the law, especially when it comes to dangerous weapons, the politician warned that there cannot be one rule for the police and another for the rest of us.

With so many tourists from the US with firearms licences have faced the consequences for their forgetfulness over ammunition, for a member of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) to be given a pass for having his gun as well as the bullets at the airport could not be justified.

“The public deserves an explanation on why he has not been charged,” Miller said earlier this year, but none has ever been forthcoming.

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Category: Courts, Crime, Customs

Comments (59)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I have a Blackhawk military style pack yes I do carry ammo in ca legally and firearms as well it was a mistake on my part so thanks very much for ruining a very wonderful honeymoon and ripping me off and for those who don’t like U.S. Citizens for this one I will never return and I’m sure you will be happy !!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s been a source of puzzlement for me as well. How can persons be cleared for departure in the U.S. (where we all know in which country forgetting to carry a firearm is akin to forgetting to carry an umbrella in the U.K. i.e. downright risky) with bullets in their possession?

  3. Anonymous says:

    After what I just did with a friendly US tourist I hope I was firing blanks! She won’t get stopped for that, will she?

  4. Concerned Caymanian says:

    (Had to repeat this comment)…..I bet it would be far more serious if it was a CAYMANIAN, yardie(Jamaican) or a Honduranian found bringing in a single bullet. Task force would show up at the airport in droves and Crew, Smith and Shedden roads would be closed for hours, airplanes would be diverted,RCIPS helicopter circling around creating excitement & TV crews setting up to report. I bet you that it would be far more serious!!!.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Don’t worry folks in the very near future Americans will stop coming. Your island is going on the black list.

    • Anonymous says:


      What black list now, and for what exactly?

    • Anonymous says:

      If TSA were to find live ammo, or a gun, in carry on they usualy call the local police who either lock you in a cell overnight with a $1k fine, send you to a gun safety course or a warning. That’s if you have a permit for the gun or ammo and are an American citizen, the treatment is actually quite similar to what they would expect if they were caught in the US and probably quite fair as a) they don’t have a permit for it here b) also involved cross-border travel, the Feds have a bit of a thing about exporting guns and ammo from the US without a permit.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not entirely sure how to interpret your comment. Any pointers you might care to share?

  6. Anonymous says:

    why is this constantly in the news over 1 bullet???! please report some proper news on what Customs is really doing to combat illegal importation of firearms and drugs. Tired of hearing about 1 bullet. Customs should be ashamed of themselves to keep reporting this as it only exposes them not finding the bullet when he tourist came into the island.

  7. Anonymous says:

    So lets get this right! The bullet comes in without issue and Customs missed it and when its going back out its found by airport security but they have to hand it over to Customs who then handle it and take credit for its finding Resulting in skewed stats on seizures for Customs! …. gimme a break!

    • Anonymous says:

      How do you know it isn’t a test to prove our system? Everyone is going to forget one bullet in his bag? What type of treatment would be given to the Caymanian? HMP would be smiling, because one of us would be behind bars.

      • Anonymous says:

        What an intriguing hypothesis.You mean like some type of “probing” by the American (“big”) government that puts data gathering ahead of creating the distinct impression that so many of our visitors from the U.S. are just plain thick (U.S.dumb)?

  8. Anonymous says:

    TSA worldwide is slipping. I got through the Grand Cayman security with razor blades in my hand luggage a few weeks ago. Did not even remember they were there and only found them once I got to the hotel in USA. But then they want to “feel you up good” if the machine goes off because you have metal in your push up bra.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I bet it would be far more serious if it was a yardie(Jamaican) or a Hondoreian(Honduran) found bringing in a single bullet. Task force would show up at the airport in droves and Crew, Smith and Shedden roads would be closed for hours, airplanes would be diverted,RCIPS helicopter circling around creating excitement & TV crews setting up to report. I bet you that it would be far more serious!!!.

    • Anonymous says:

      Depending on the Jamaican or Honduran’s travel history and explanation, it might very well be more serious. It’s all about intent and the circumstances of how ammunition ended up in your bag. A Tourist coming from a recent hunting trip in the U.S. Would have a much more believable story than a local wannabe gangsta arriving from Jamaica or Honduras. Discretion is apparently a tough concept for some people to understand, hence the moronic and sometimes racist comments on CNS. You don’t lock your doors at night from fear of an American tourist couple breaking in and shooting you.

  10. What a mess! says:

    And people wonder why travelers to Cayman might be innocent targets with bullets being planted. What other choice do they have ? Pay the fine and extra nights at a hotel and never come back.

    • Anonymous says:

      What? Planted why?

      • Fred the Piemaker says:

        The poster see see believe that that government planting rounds to get the fines and additional hotel revenue. You can’t fix stupid.

      • Anonymous says:

        Maybe someone wants to grow a bullet tree since they are so expensive to import. We should start producing them here. First farmer who grows a bullet tree automatically gets the Heros Award.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Captain Obvious asks, Cayman Customs is discovering these unintentionally stray bullets on the way out, how would the creation of an amnesty room help on the way in? If they knew they had a single bullet, the logic dictates they would have tossed it into the bin on discovery themselves and well before the airport departure area.

    • Anonymous says:

      Correction! Customs is not finding the bullets but good old Airport Security are finding them !

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe they could the same for drugs, just snort the remnants of last nights bag or dump the 10 kilos because people are looking at you suspiciously before getting on the plane?

    • Levi says:

      The big question is what if they are bringing in more than one bullet? Where are the criminals getting their ammo from?

  12. A Camanian says:

    I think it is a big mistake taking our guest’s money just because you can. You know it’s wrong. You know if someone wanted to get ammo into the country they would not bring it in one-at-a-time. It is just legalized graft from our visitors. Are the judges in cahoots with customs? Do they split the money?

    • Anonymous says:

      Guess how US Customs would react to an Caymanian arriving in the U.S. with one in his luggage? That could be the real test.

  13. Marc Sman says:

    Let’s get something straight. A bullet is that thing that comes zippin’ out of the barrel when the gun is fired. A cartridge, or round, is the complete bullet, case, powder and primer that is loaded into a firearm. Big difference! You can’t do much damage with a bullet unless it is fired from its case by a firearm.

    • SAM says:

      So a metal cartridge(shell) loaded with gun powder called a bullet. Many bullets loaded into a firearm called a case?

  14. Bluff Patrol says:

    Is HM Customs reporting these incidents to the US Dept. of Homeland Security?

    They need to be informed that their TSA Agents and procedures are not effective in the airports these tourists have traveled through.

  15. Anonymous says:

    What about the policeman, he should be prosecuted, and he doesn’t need to be extradited!.

    • Anonymous says:

      Prosecuted for breaching which law exactly? He was stupid for having it at the airport, but it was licensed. Stupidity is not a crime. If it was, we couldn’t build enough prisons to hold all those convicted.

      • Fred the Piemaker says:

        So in your world a firearms licence entitles you to carry firearms unto a commercial flight in your hand baggage?

    • Anonymous says:

      yes lets hear about …..that as we understand he was one of the Deputies former colleagues and good friend

  16. Anonymous says:

    A gun I can understand but a single bullet???? And he was leaving here……get over it cayman.
    There are so many nooks and crannies in a backpack it is very feasible that it was overlooked. Meanwhile the 300,000$ women is still at large.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I still think they are buying the ammunition here. How can they possibly have ammunition in their bag the whole time and not see it when they are unpacking their bags at the hotel? Or all the US airports miss it? It’s too fishy. They know that Cayman laws are lax and they’ll only have to pay a fine. If we were caught in Miami, would we get off with a fine? No. We would be in jail.

    • Anonymous says:

      For sure he came from California to cayman to buy a single round….der

    • Anonymous says:

      10:11am – Dude!! ONE bullet??? Did you even read the article? They are arriving here with one errant bullet in their bag.
      Do you know the size and color of a bullet? You don’t think one bullet could get lost in a bag? Not everyone unpacks their entire suitcase when they arrive at the hotel but anyway, they are arriving here with it, not leaving here with it!!
      Pay attention!! LOL

    • Anonymous says:

      Yea because an American will travel from their homeland where firearms are perfectly legal, to illegally purchase “one” bullet in most cases from a jurisdiction where firearms are illegal. Did you have your morning coffee?

      They should just give the tourist offender a hefty fine rather than send them to court to take up time and resources for one bullet. $1000.00 does not even begin to cover the costs of arresting and processing the individual to then send them to court. Judges, crown council and court clerks need to be paid also.

    • Anonymous says:

      The TSA reportedly confiscated 2,200 guns from US travellers in 2014, most were loaded. In the US it’s usually a misdemeanor to carry a firearm (not just ammo) into a restricted area like the airport, $1k fine or gun safety training course and charges dropped. Losing a bullet in the creases of a backpack, or bottom of a pocket really isn’t difficult, they aren’t that large, besides what would they possibly do with one bullet bought at great risk in Cayman vs walking into walmart and being able to fill a shopping cart with it?

    • SSM345 says:

      A registered gun owner in the USA came to Cayman on his honeymoon to purchase a single round of ammunition?
      What the F are you smoking, you need to stop.

      • Anonymous says:

        Furthermore, perhaps HM Customs can inform the US about the last 10 of their citizens who have been found to be carrying ammunition in their belongings when leaving Cayman, that way there might be 10 get-out-of-jail free cards if the same happens with a Caymanian going to the US.

        • Anonymous says:

          If you were to find out the numbers for firearm seizures and drugs 70% of them are attributed to a single bullet and maybe 3 other incidents are actual findings of drugs! come on customs pull your socks up and stop sleeping at the booth! you know the drugs are coming in and the real firearms start doing something. Mr Clifford????!

        • Just Driftwood says:

          But Caymanians don’t have guns; they’re against the law here, right?

        • Anonymous says:

          It would be good to make the notification but I do hope you are joking about the get out of jail free cards. Otherwise, you really are a straight up moron.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can’t make this stuff up. Please keep the entertaining comments coming.

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