Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Phillip Davis.
Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Phillip Davis.

For decades, Caribbean Community governments had been telling federal agencies in the US that most of the guns used to commit violent crime in the region come from mainland USA as they pleaded with authorities to make a committed effort to find the main players and to stem shipments to Caricom.

Lukewarm responses and efforts from the US had only served to frustrate the 15-nation bloc, but it appears that a series of recent high-level engagements and visits to the region by people like Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken have set the stage for positive changes.

In a brilliant sting operation last week, federal authorities in Florida nabbed a Bahamian man who admitted to buying 89 guns between January of last year and July of this year and shipping most to The Bahamas. Many were recovered at murder scenes back home, the Tribune newspaper reported this week.

Kingsley Samuel Richard Wilson has now been indicted on 39 charges linked to possession and trafficking of 39 unlicensed firearms. The feds had latched onto the racket after receiving credible information from a tipster that Wilson had been engaged in acquiring and shipping arms overseas. For officials in The Bahamas, his arrest and indictment prove what the region had been complaining about all along but were not taken too seriously in the US.

“Based on either sales receipts or the customer profile-including firearm sale price and fair market value-Wilson has spent approximately $28,000 on his firearm purchases since January 2022,” agents said in a sworn affidavit. His mobile phone also proved to be a treasure trove for investigations as it detailed conversations with associates back home including someone named “Fresh.”

“Wilson described using the box of a small pressure washer to package the firearms. Fresh requested that Wilson take a photo of the firearms before shipping them. In the same conversation, Wilson sent Fresh a picture of three extended magazines and six pistols-two block .40 caliber firearms, a SCCY 9mm firearm and three Taurus firearms – models G2 or G3). ‘Fresh’ approves of these firearms. They also discussed the payments to Wilson for these firearms and the transfer of the firearms to third parties,” the affidavit said. The phone also detailed methods of shipping weapons to The Bahamas.

A break in the gun smuggling ring to the Caribbean comes as several bloc member nations, including Trinidad, The Bahamas, St. Vincent and Antigua have recently agreed to join in a lawsuit filed by Mexico against American manufacturers, blaming their product for causing mayhem in the region.

“The guns used in the commission of violent crimes in The Bahamas are not manufactured here, but instead, are manufactured abroad and illegally trafficked across our borders,” a statement issued by the office of the Prime Minister Phillip Davis had said earlier this year. “Today, as part of this broader effort to reduce the impact of gun violence in The Bahamas, our country joined an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the United States Court of Appeal in the First Circuit, in support of Mexico, who is appealing their case to hold US gun manufacturers liable for the harm caused by their products,” Davis had said.