A surging flow of firearms transported illegally from South Florida to Haiti is fueling gang violence, atrocities and a breakdown of order in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

Rather than training his sights on gun traffickers in Florida, however, Gov. Ron DeSantis targets migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border fleeing violence caused in large measure by weapons shipped from his state.

More than 150 gangs wage war in Haiti, where mass murders, kidnappings and gang rapes are commonplace. Gangs regularly post videos of beheadings or rivals being burned alive.

Last year, Homeland Security Investigations announced efforts to combat gun trafficking in Florida.

“Today we make it very clear that the United States, and in particular South Florida, is not open for business regarding the illegal trafficking of weapons,” said an HSI spokesperson in announcing the formation of a multi-agency task force to spearhead the campaign.

Seven federal agencies and the Miami-Dade police department were present. The DeSantis administration was conspicuously absent.

Instead, with his presidential ambitions top of mind, DeSantis pledged to dispatch to Texas 300 state troopers, 800 National Guardsmen and other assets that could have been used against illegal gun trafficking in his backyard.

Florida has long been the hub of firearms trafficking. So-called “straw men” purchase firearms in states with lax gun laws for transport to Florida for delivery throughout the Caribbean. With the enactment of new state gun regulations earlier this year, straw men have no need to shop out of state.

DeSantis’ focus on interdicting migrants while ignoring arms trafficking is to turn a blind eye to what the United Nations labeled “a gross violation of human rights.”

Haiti is in chaos, and our governor has a responsibility not to make conditions worse ― especially given his ambition to be leader of the free world.

Richard Leonard, Vero Beach

TCPalm September 14, 2023