U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have discovered and seized three firearms and more than 200 rounds of ammunition from a shipping container destined for Liberia. The container, originating from a Minneapolis suburb, was officially declared to carry three vehicles and household goods.
The discovery and seizure were made on October 12, just two days after Liberia’s general and presidential elections which is now headed for a runoff on November 14.
This is the second time this year that military-grade weapons have been shipped to Liberia. The first was on January 5 this year which was intercepted at the Freeport of Monrovia by the Joint Security following a tipoff.
In the recent bust that was intercepted, CBP officers undertook a routine inspection of the container’s contents, revealing the alarming discovery. Hidden inside two black barrels were the concealed firearms and ammunition.
The cache included a Taurus GC3 9mm, a Bersa 380 ACP, and a Hatfield 12-gauge shotgun, along with four magazines, 159 rounds of 9mm ammunition, 20 rounds of .308 ammunition, and 25 rounds of 12-gauge shotgun shells. Federal law rigorously governs the lawful exportation of firearms, accessories, and ammunition, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) plays a pivotal role in providing guidance to exporters on these export requirements.
Firearms exporters are obligated to file an Electronic Export Information (EEI) via the Automated Export System (AES). While no arrests have been made at this point, CBP officers confiscated the firearms and ammunition and promptly informed special agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), who are actively pursuing the investigation.
Mark Laria, CBP’s Area Port Director for the Area Port of Norfolk-Newport News, expressed the critical role of CBP in safeguarding the international community. He remarked, “Oftentimes, firearms being smuggled out of the United States are destined for the hands of transnational criminal organizations who use those weapons to terrorize or harm innocent victims. Customs and Border Protection’s border security mission helps protect the defenseless by intercepting these illegally exported firearms.”
This incident isn’t an isolated one, as CBP officers in Norfolk have encountered similar situations involving firearms being smuggled out of the United States. In July, officers discovered an RF-15 semi-automatic rifle, a SIG Sauer SIGM400 rifle, a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm shield pistol, four magazines, and 77 rounds of ammunition while disposing of the contents of an abandoned export shipping container destined for Sierra Leone. In June, CBP officers seized 35 magazines, four Kevlar helmets, four antenna communication matching units, and three vehicle taillights in a shipment from Lenoir County, North Carolina, heading to Brno, Czech Republic.