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CBP FINDS: 2 Air Passengers With 10 Handguns, 4 Rifles, 1 Shotgun, 2 Bullet-Proof Vests, 407 Rounds Of Ammunition

CHARLOTTE AMALIE —  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Monday two incidents where inbound passengers to the Cyril E. King Airport and the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, have attempted to smuggle firearms, ammunition and bulletproof vests in violation of local law.

“The U.S. Virgin Islands has its own laws regarding possession of firearms and ammunition,” stated Todd Bellew, Area Port Director in St. Thomas.  “Passengers should contact the local authorities regarding what is allowed to be entered.”

A CBP Contraband Enforcement Team inspected all inbound luggage from a flight arriving to St. Croix from Miami on Friday.  Inside six checked luggage bags, officers found three AR-15 rifles and eight handguns. 

CBP officers inspected a passenger and his luggage arriving from Charlotte, North Carolina, finding a Glock 22 – .40 caliber, a Glock 27 .40 caliber, a Z-15 multi-caliber rifle, a Mossberg 12GA shotgun on July 6. 

Officers also found multiple rounds of ammunition to include (69) 9 mm rounds, (120) 5.56, (27) .45 caliber rounds, (123) .40 caliber rounds, and (68) 5.7 x 28 mm armor-piercing rounds. The passenger was also in possession of two bulletproof vests, one of which was armor-plated.

In all incidents, the Virgins Islands Police Department (VIPD) received custody of the weapons for disposition under local law.

As the United States’ first unified border entity, CBP said it “takes a comprehensive approach to border management and control, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection into one coordinated and supportive activity.”

Meanwhile, on social media, one reader on St. Thomas said that someone in the USVI airport system was there to make sure the guns got through, but failed, miserably.

“For them to be this bold they had to have someone here to cover them up,” Tetyana Hayes said on Facebook.

Other comments from social media included:

“Gee, how’d that get in there? I don’t remember packing that,” Nick Thompson of St. Thomas said.

“How it pass thru Customs in Miami tho??” Kimberly Abhary of St. Thomas asked.

Kimberly Abhary in most cases they let the bags go thru to the final destination and have authorities standing by to apprehend them at baggage claim as to not alert the persons to any issues. Think of what can occur on a plane full of innocent people if they decided they not going down without a fight. plus they can tack on actual federal charges for transportation rather than attempted. more time!” Prince Aj Muhammed of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, formerly of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, answered.

The territory has its own laws regarding possession of firearms and ammunition.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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