September 6, 2023 -Police in Antigua and Barbuda are intensifying surveillance measures following the discovery of two “ghost guns”—weapons that are nearly impossible to trace due to a lack of serial numbers.
The increase in surveillance highlights the complexities law enforcement agencies face in tracking these types of firearms.
Ghost guns in CARICOM countries
Antigua and Barbuda is the second country in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to publicly announce the identification of ghost guns.
Authorities in Trinidad and Tobago recently detained two individuals linked to a 3D printing setup capable of manufacturing such weapons.
- Jamaican sentenced to 18 months in US prison for creating ghost guns
Elusive components: The challenge of identification
According to Deputy Commissioner of Police Everton Jeffers, these ghost guns are mainly small arms with nine millimeter calibers. They can be assembled from disparate parts acquired separately, which complicates the process for law enforcement agencies attempting to intercept these components.
Even seasoned officers could overlook these parts if they lack specific training, Jeffers points out.
Everyday disguises: Concealing weapon components
Jeffers further shared that parts that make up ghost guns can be hidden in unassuming objects like paint cans or detergent pods.
He said that such concealed items easily bypass security checkpoints if not subjected to x-ray screening. This method of smuggling parts into the country presents a formidable challenge for law enforcement.
Where are ghost guns coming from?
Jeffers further said that data suggests that the majority of these weapon components originate from North America, particularly the United States, as well as Venezuela and Colombia.
As pinpointing a single source proves elusive, reliance on human intelligence becomes increasingly important for law enforcement agencies.
Deputy Commissioner Jeffers indicates that the emergence of ghost guns is intrinsically linked to the drug trade—a pervasive issue in the Caribbean region.
So far, authorities in Antigua and Barbuda have seized 35 firearms and 146 rounds of ammunition this year alone. Jeffers advocates for more joint operations between local and American law enforcement agencies to better tackle the issue.