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Another Bullet Machine

Ammo maker was lying idle, in the open, at St Andrew premises for over a decade

BY HG HELPS Editor-at-large helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 08, 2013    

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THERE is another ammunition reloading machine in Jamaica, but security authorities are not fully aware of it, the Jamaica Observer can report.

Interest in the machine rose two weeks ago, following the seizure of one by police at Port Bustamante, which was dubbed by law enforcers as the first of its kind to enter Jamaica.

But it is not the first.

Over a decade ago, another reloading machine entered Jamaica under unclear circumstances and was, up to the Port Bustamante find two weeks ago, stored at premises in St Andrew. The machine has since been removed to a more secure location, which Sunday Observer sources said was on the same premises.

Initial reports are that the item entered Jamaica without the requisite import documents. This could not be immediately verified by the Sunday Observer, but the haste with which it was removed from its original place of rest has aroused suspicion that something is amiss.

Personnel connected to the facility were not willing to speak publicly on the matter, and the Sunday Observer was denied access to he facility.

Initial reports are that the operators of the facility had been storing the item illegally, but this was not confirmed by officials there, or by national security personnel.

The machine has the capability to make over 1,000 rounds of ammunition per hour, according to persons equipped with that level of expertise, which readily raises questions regarding the frequency with which it was being used and the controls established in the process of distributing bullets.

Only last Wednesday, the police force's information arm, the Constabulary Communication Network, sought to remind Jamaicans that sleuths from the Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) headquarters were continuing their probe into the ammunition seizure at the port on Thursday, November 28, "where a machine used to make and reload ammunition, along with several components and 3,300 war heads/projectiles were seized".

The CCN disclosed that local police, aided by those from overseas, had traced the origin of the shipment of the items to Florida in the southern United States.

The law enforcers said that collaboration between themselves and their overseas colleagues on the matter was continuing.

The police also said that they had still not nabbed a named suspect, whom they believe could assist them with their investigations.

They reassured the public that the investigation has been, and will continue to be conducted in a professional and timely manner, and urged anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the suspect, whom they said was from Mandeville, Manchester, to contact the police immediately.

The ammunition reloading machine had been lying at a spot at the venue for several years, with many of those who went there and saw it apparently not knowing what it was and its purpose.

"Even people from the Firearms Licensing Authority (FLA) have been to the location, leaned against it and didn't even know what it was," said a Sunday Observer source.

"The thing was just thrown down there and a majority of the people who came and went were unaware of its function. It was left in the open, unsupervised and unprotected. It has now been secured.

"It therefore begs the question about the kind of people that they put to work at the FLA. Several of them do not know about weapons," the source said.

Senior police personnel contacted by the Sunday Observer said that while they had heard rumours about the existence of the ammunition recharge machine, they had nothing official to tell the public about its location.

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