- By Pacific island Times News Staff
Arms smuggling uncovered in Yap, Pohnpei
Palikir, Pohnpei— The Federated States of Micronesia’s Customs and Tax Administration has intercepted two separate consignments of illegal weaponry in Yap and Pohnpei.
The weapons, which were intercepted this month and last month, have since been confiscated and handed over to the FSM National Police for investigation, FSM officials said.
In September, two Customs officers from the Customs Field Office in Yap were conducting a routine inspection of containers at the Waab Commercial Dock when came across undeclared boxes of gun parts, as well as a bow and arrows.
In Pohnpei, Customs officers discovered 6,000 rounds of ammunition while inspecting a container in Kolonia sometime in October.
The discoveries of arms smuggling came after two relevant cases involving the illegal importation of ammunition have been heard by the Pohnpei State Supreme Court, with both cases prosecuted by the FSM Department of Justice.
The first such case occurred in August, wherein Quleen Saimon was convicted and sentenced for the offense of illegally importing ammunition in a passenger’s checked-in luggage. The second such case occurred in September, wherein Watson Panuel was convicted and appropriately sentenced for the illegal importation of ammunition through the FSM Post Office.
“I encourage all businesses and individuals to abide by the law with regards to their imports, as our Customs officers are monitoring these imports carefully,” said Secretary Eugene Amor of the Department of Finance & Administration. "All of these cases reflect the cooperative work being carried out by Customs, the FSM National Police, and the FSM Attorney General, to protect our FSM borders against dangerous and illegal imports.”
FSM President David W. Panuelo applauded the Division of Customs & Tax Administration for their capable efforts in keeping the FSM safe from dangerous and illegal imports, and the FSM Department of Justice for their thorough and capable investigations and prosecutions.
“The FSM is a nation of laws. One of the most elemental roles any government plays is to keep its citizens and residents safe from internal and external threats, whether those threats are either invisible or abstract, such as Covid-19 or socio-economic inequities, or highly visible and concrete, such as illegal weapons and ammunition," Panuelo said.
"Life is more than stressful enough for our citizens who are dealing with the effects of economic hardship during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a society, we don’t need, want, or deserve to have such visible and concrete threats to our peace, unity and liberty, and so I applaud our Customs officers for their diligence in their duty to protecting our country.”
If the public come across any information, or become aware of any illegal imports coming into the FSM, please contact Customs at the following numbers: