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Urgent House Oversight Committee Democrats demand briefing on US arms trafficking to Haiti

  • June 5, 2024
  • 4 Min
  • 8

House Oversight Dems demand briefing on U.S.-to-Haiti gun trafficking

Gang violence in Haiti is “planned,” human rights leaders often say.

Members of the House Oversight Committee are demanding an explanation from the Biden administration on the illegal flow of guns to Haiti.

Armed gangs killed thousands of people in Haiti earlier this year and worsened the country’s severe humanitarian crises. Lawmakers said in a new letter sent Tuesday that the flow of weapons to the nation is “fueling catastrophic gang violence.”

“Once they arrive on Haitian soil, firearms originating from the United States are sold at inflated prices to Haitian gang members to facilitate the ongoing violence and humanitarian crisis,” the letter states.

Members request a briefing on federal efforts to stem the “illicit flow of U.S. firearms to criminal organizations and gangs abroad” and how Congress can help by June 20.

“The vast majority” of weapons used by Haitian gangs were obtained through straw buyers in the United States, the letter said.

The letter was sent Tuesday to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Katrina Berger, executive associate director of Homeland Security Investigations, and Steven Dettelbach, director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives .

Gangs aided by access to illegal weapons have taken control of large swaths of the capital, Port-au-Prince, NBC News reported earlier this year.

Often, Americans buy the guns in states with lax gun laws, such as Florida and Georgia, before they are smuggled overseas, the letter notes. The Department of Homeland Security is trying to resolve the problem by seizing weapons at U.S. facilities before they leave the country. The problem is not unique to Haiti, members add. Such straw purchases also fuel a flow of weapons to other parts of the Caribbean and Central America.

The lawmakers wrote that they “recognize and applaud” the steps the Biden administration has already taken to reduce straw purchases and the flow of weapons to criminal organizations.

However, they add: “Additional measures are needed to strengthen these efforts and ensure that American gunsmiths are no longer a favored target of international criminal arms traffickers.” »