THE Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association welcomed the return of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to TT.
On March 11, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds met with ATF officials at his ministry at Temple Court, Abercromby Street in Port of Spain.
The ministry issued a statement that day saying the meeting provided an opportunity to "discuss prospects to further bilateral security collaboration between the Governments of TT and the United States in significant areas of mutual interest."
Hinds promised there would be support for ATF initiatives and activities "to stem the trafficking of illicit guns and firearms."
The ATF team said its main objective will be to support the ministry's law-enforcement agencies to combat illicit trafficking in firearms, through providing operational support, knowledge and information-sharing, as well as capacity-building initiatives.
The ATF also said it will be supporting the Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), as it strengthens capacity and policies to counter illicit trafficking in firearms in the Caribbean.
In a statement on Thursday, TTMA president Tricia Coosal was optmistic that in collaboration with local law-enforcement agencies, the ATF will help curb the number of guns illegally trafficked into TT with unique detection and reporting methods.
“The TTMA is happy to be working alongside the national Joint Task Force, and we are enthused that these efforts will now be supplemented with the work and knowledge of the ATF."
Coosal said efforts are ongoing on many fronts to fight illicit trafficking of guns.
"Illegal guns have been entering this country unabated for far too long and are being traded and sold like commodity. This practice must end.”
The TTMA, she continued, has been collaborating with the Trade and Industry Ministry since 2018 on the issue.
"Crime continues to surge out of control and the collective action by officers, citizens and legitimate businesses is needed to guarantee a safe society.”
Coosal said many illegal guns are owned by detainees, criminal elements and in some cases by male students. She added the question of who benefits from the sale of illegal firearms raises the issue of whether free trade zones (FTZs) could be used for such activities.
"We support the legitimate trade activities under FTZs but those that promote and encourage illicit transaction need to be weeded out.”
Coosal also said the TTMA has previously collaborated with other entities such as the British High Commission, UNOffice on Drugs and Crime, Crime Stoppers and the Caribbean/Bermuda Latin America Crime Stoppers.