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The very bad thing that is going from Florida to Haiti

​Gang member in carrying gun in Haiti

Gang member in carrying gun in Haiti

REUTERS/Daniel Morel DM/SV

As Haiti sinks ever deeper into a maelstrom of gang violence, state failure, and vigilantism, US authorities are trying to cut off one big aggravating factor: US guns.

Agents of the DHS are targeting port facilities in South Florida, where traffickers take advantage of loopholes in US customs rules that all allow them to hide powerful weapons in containers of commercial goods or humanitarian aid.

Once in Haiti, smugglers find a thriving market – a UN report from 2023 says a pistol purchased for $400-500 at a US gun show can fetch as much as $10,000 on the streets of Port-au-Prince. Higher-powered rifles favored by gangs cost even more.

This is part of a wider problem of the so-called “iron river” of weapons flowing southward from US states with lax gun laws into the hands of Latin American criminals. According to Washington, half of all “crime guns” in the region come from the US, and the figure is as high as 80% in the Caribbean.

Last month, a US judge ruled that Mexico, for example, could proceed with a lawsuit against Arizona-based gun dealers, which accuses them of trafficking weapons to Mexican drug cartels. If and when Haiti is ever in a condition to press similar charges, the beleaguered nation may have quite a case of its own.


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