Cayman ‘honeymooner’ caught with 50 bullets

Her Majesty’s Customs service corralled another visitor who said he was here on his honeymoon over the weekend at Owen Roberts International Airport.

But this time, the man wasn’t carrying a wedding dress – he had 50 live rounds of ammunition.

HM Customs officers arrested a 27-year-old man from Wyoming, USA, on Saturday after they said they searched his luggage and found 50 rounds of 9mm handgun ammunition.

“The visitor claimed he was visiting the Cayman Islands on his honeymoon and had forgotten the ammunition in his bag,” HM Customs said in a statement. The man was due to appear in Summary Court Wednesday.

“HM Customs remains resolute to controlling and containing criminal activity at our borders,” said Customs Collector Samantha Bennett. “The fact that 50 rounds of ammunition were found in a visitor’s luggage is very concerning and the consequences of such ammunition falling into the wrong hands cannot be overlooked.”

Customs officers said the arrest came as the result of ongoing search operations at Grand Cayman’s main airport. The customs department’s airport crackdown has led to some major successes – as well as some public embarrassments – in recent months.

Over the Easter holiday weekend, four drug seizures at Owen Roberts Airport resulted in five arrests. In three of the cases, substances suspected to be cocaine were seized, and in the fourth case, a small amount of ganja was taken by customs officers, Deputy Customs Collector Marlon Bodden said.

Mr. Bodden said in April that the customs service had been “weak” in its intervention efforts at Cayman’s airports and ports, making just 12 drugs seizures at local airports in a five-year period.

“The focus will be to snuff out and deal with any folks who are dealing with contraband,” Mr. Bodden said. “There will be a certain degree of inconvenience to the public as a result.”

The no-tolerance policy in customs raised hackles earlier this year when a dispute over a wedding dress a man was bringing in for his bride-to-be was the subject of controversy.

In that situation, a former resident of Grand Cayman, groom Scott McLean from Milwaukee, USA, had returned to the island for his wedding and was outraged when officials asked for a deposit to allow the dress on island. His wife was a resident in Cayman at the time.

Following a review of internal procedures, it became apparent that the long-standing process of assessing deposits for visitors’ wedding attire required a comprehensive review, the Collector of Customs Samantha Bennett said.

“HM Customs will inform all staff of the new procedure and enforce this accordingly for visitors,” she said. “The process of declaration will be followed in accordance with the Customs Tariff Law Schedule 2 on tourist apparel … only now the discretion will be legally expanded to not charge a deposit. Please note that duty were never applicable unless the item was remaining on island indefinitely.”

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