ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) – Antigua and Barbuda police say they are stepping up surveillance in the country after two “ghost guns” were discovered, but acknowledged that “there is no easy way to trace them”.
The island is the second Caribbean Community (Caricom) country to have publicly announced the discovery of “ghost guns”, with Trinidad and Tobago law enforcement authorities recently detaining two people— including a woman— in connection with the discovery of manufacturing equipment including 3D printing technology.
READ: T&T police seize ‘ghost guns’ being manufactured in country
Antigua and Barbuda deputy commissioner of police (DCP) Everton Jeffers said the weapons are predominantly small arms of 9mm calibre.
“There is no easy way to trace them. There are no numbers, and you can buy different parts to assemble these firearms,” he said, noting that with basic tools such as a drill and screwdriver, people can construct functioning firearms by following online tutorials.
The authorities said the ghost guns use components that can be imported into the country without raising suspicion, utilising readily available items like receivers, barrels, and trigger mechanisms.
“You can ship the parts separately,” Jeffers said, adding that a major challenge for law enforcement agencies is identifying and intercepting the components that make up these homemade weapons.
The Deputy Commissioner said that without proper knowledge, even law enforcement officers might fail to recognise a part of a ghost gun.
“If you don’t know, you can actually see a part of a ghost gun and not even recognise that you’re dealing with a ghost gun,” he said, adding that the parts can be concealed in everyday items like a tin of paint or detergent pods.
“If those items are not X-rayed then they will just pass through the port just like that. Those items that are coming in, except those persons or agencies overseas run these things through x-rays, those things will continue to come into the country and we won’t be able to pick them up,” he added.
He said data indicates that most of these parts and weapons are originating from North America, particularly the United States, Venezuela, and Colombia.
“We’re going to have to depend on our human intelligence to assist us because since we do not know the source of origin the manufacturer could be Ms John in her house.”
The Deputy Commissioner said that the proliferation of ghost guns is directly linked to the drug trade, which continues to be a major issue in the region.
“We’re a small country, we do not manufacture firearms, but for the year, so far, we have already seized 35 firearms and 146 rounds of ammunition,” he said, adding “What we’re also hoping for is that we can have more joint exercises between the local authorities and the Americans.”