U.S. officials say there has been a noticeable surge in high-powered firearms being illegally trafficked from the United States to Haiti, with gangs from the Caribbean nation purchasing firearms and bringing them into Haiti from Florida, in recent months.
Haiti has been further destabilized by violent, armed gangs engaging in brutal warfare, which has seen hundreds killed in recent weeks, the BBC reported in July.
Anthony Salisbury, a special agent with U.S. Homeland Security in Miami, said, “Not only have we seen a marked uptick in the number of weapons, but a serious increase in the caliber and type of firearm being illegally trafficked,” according to Bloomberg.
The UN Security Council voted in June to ban sales of small firearms along with ammunition to those in Haiti considered to be "non-state actors." Despite the move by the world governing body, the flow of firearms into Haiti has appeared to remain a major issue.
At a Wednesday press conference in South Florida, agents stood before tables covered in high-powered firearms and handguns that federal agents said they have seized in recent weeks and months.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), along with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), are the federal law enforcement entities primarily responsible for investigating international smuggling operations.
In July, a New York Times report detailed how armed gangs have increased their power in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince — sometimes using cruel tactics such as using bulldozers to raze entire neighborhoods.
In just one nine-day period in July, over 470 people were killed, went missing, or were injured because of gang warfare in Cité Soleil, the largest poverty-stricken community in the capital.