Feb. 19 (UPI) — Five Americans were arrested in Haiti for the possession of illegal firearms, police said.
In total, eight individuals were arrested, including a Serbian, Russian and a Haitian as well as the Americans, in the capital of Port-au-Prince when they were pulled over at a police checkpoint, Port-au-Prince Police Chief Joel Casseus said, the Miami Herald reported.
The individuals were driving in two vehicles without license plates with an arsenal of rifles and pistols, police confirmed Monday.
The arrests occurred Sunday night and their identities are not yet known, CNN reported.
Since Feb. 7, the country has been rocked with protests calling for the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moise over the mismanagement of funds and corruption connected with a multibillion-dollar oil deal made in 2007 with the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The protests have crippled much of Port-au-Prince as clashes between protesters and police turned fatal.
The U.S. State Department said in a statement Monday that it was aware of the arrests.
“We understand that the Haitian National Police detained a group of individuals, including some U.S. citizens. When U.S. citizens are arrested overseas we seek Consular Access as soon as possible and provide appropriate Consular assistance as provided by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Due to privacy considerations, we are unable to comment further,” it said.
Suspicions were raised about the individuals as the two vehicles they were traveling in lacked plates, Casseus said, adding that the individuals refused to show identification.
Police found six automatic rifles, six pistols, two professional drones and an assortment of documents, among other items.
The arrests follow the United States issuing a travel warning for the Caribbean country Thursday due to “crime and civil unrest.”
The State Department ordered all non-emergency U.S. personnel and their families home.
“Protests … and road blockages are frequent and unpredictable,” the advisory said. “Violent crime, such as armed robbery, is common.”