THE Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) says it will be putting stricter measures in place for freight forwarders and cargo aggregators to ensure the legitimacy of goods being shipped to Jamaica, which can help to stem the illicit trade of firearms and ammunition in the country.
JCA’s CEO/Commissioner of Customs Velma Ricketts Walker said this clampdown is in a bid to compel these stakeholders to know their customers and verify their authenticity.
“You will find that there are times when an item is detected here in Jamaica and the investigations [reveal] it is a fake address or a fake name. We want to get those information from the point of origin and so we are also working with those partners to provide us with greater information,” she said while speaking at the inaugural staging of a security seminar by the Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA) at the AC Hotel Kingston in St Andrew on Thursday.
Ricketts Walker said that, while she questions the “strong possibility that the firearm or the ammunition passes through our ports” whenever there is a killing by the gun, she maintains that “a lot of work is going on at the back end”, noting that the JCA has deepened its approach to border protection.
“Persons think of Customs and they think revenue; we are far more than that. We are a border [protection] entity so we are here to stop any illicit activity, including any arms and ammunition that might come into our country,” she assured.
The Customs commissioner said the agency is also working closely with its international partners in ensuring that “they are working with us to also prevent, but if it is that it’s [already] on its way, that they also give us that information”.
“Additionally, we have been doing deep and advanced enforcement action and security action, so much so that persons are complaining that they can’t get their goodsâ€¦ I can’t afford for my team members not being able to be in a position to detect because we are hurrying to try and facilitate someone who might have a nefarious intent,” she said.
Ricketts Walker said the agency continues to ensure that its enforcement capabilities, detection, investigation, risk analysis, and intelligence are up to par.
“The work continues. It involves our constant collaboration and coordination, it involves reviewing our processes and ensuring that we are more efficient to detect the items that we don’t want to see coming here,” she said.
Ricketts Walker noted that in carrying out its border protection duties the JCA works collaboratively with various entities including the Jamaica Constabulary Force; Jamaica Defence Force; Financial Investigations Division; Crime Stop; The Port Authority of Jamaica; Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency; and border regulatory agencies.