(CNS): A local couple were arrested at the Owen Roberts International Airport Monday for importing an unlicensed firearm and ammunition, customs officials said. The 29-year-old man and 25-year-old woman, both Caymanian, are also under investigation for a large amount of undeclared personal goods. Following a recent boost in investment by the Customs Department on personnel, technology and infrastructure, in the last three months alone officers have arrested 18 people for various offenses, ranging from drugs to firearms.
According to a press release, customs officers arrested a 45-year-old American national on Easter Monday for possession of ganja at the airport.
On 24 March they intercepted an unspecified controlled drug concealed in a toy boat imported via air mail. The release said that officers became suspicious of the package and conducted an x-ray, which confirmed drugs hidden in the toy. Two people have since been arrested and investigations are ongoing.
To meet the ever-expanding and diverse threats to Cayman’s borders, the Customs Department has increased its border protection efforts.
“Illicit drugs and weapons smuggling, fraud and revenue evasion have been and continues to be among the Customs Department priorities,” said Collector of Customs Charles Clifford. “At every level and every customs control point, our officers are rededicating themselves to a tough campaign against illicit activities.”
Thanking them for their efforts and diligence, he said the department would continue to enhance its professional relationships with key external agencies concerned with border management to provide a comprehensive security regime. He said there were agreed objectives about the challenges faced at the points of entry to the country which included co-operative efforts, sharing and exchanging information and other strategies.
Gun crime is still a major threat to the peace and security of Cayman and the lengthy mandatory jail terms for firearms do not seem to be having the desired deterrent effect. HMP Northward is at maximum capacity and a significant number of its inmates are serving time for gun-related crime. Police are seizing weapons from the street with relative frequency, but the armed robbery at Foster’s supermarket less than two weeks ago has served to illustrate the increasing danger that gun smuggling poses to the wider public.
Assistant Collector of Customs Tina Campbell, who is responsible for the Customs Narcotics Enforcement Team, said there was a zero tolerance policy towards drugs and guns at the border.
Deputy Collector of Customs Jeff Jackson, who is responsible for the department’s border protection portfolio, said border protection efforts support national strategies to disrupt the market for illegal drugs and weapons.
“We will continue to increase our efforts and coordinate with our partner agencies like the Royal Cayman Islands Police, the Department of Immigration and the strategic alliance between these three agencies with the Joint Marine Unit and other local and international agencies, with a shared understanding of common goals to disrupt the flow of illicit drug and weapons trafficking,” he said.