South American Countries Seize 200,000 Illegal Weapons during Interpol Operation
By Eduardo Szklarz/Diálogo May 04, 2021
South American countries came together against international arms trafficking during Operation Trigger VI, coordinated by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, March 8-28.
“The operation led to the arrest of nearly 4,000 suspects in all 13 South American countries, with the recovery of nearly 200,000 illegal firearms, parts, components, ammunition, and explosives,” Interpol said in a statement.
Security and military forces from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guiana (an overseas department of France), Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela participated.
In Brazil, the Federal Police (PF, in Portuguese) led the seizures, representing Interpol in the country.
“The operation resulted in the seizure of 3,961 firearms, 41,335 rounds of ammunition, and 19,478 kilograms of drugs, in addition to 3,487 arrests,” said the PF, which had the support of the Brazilian Army and the Civil and Military Police from 27 Brazilian states.
On March 12, military police officers in the state of Pernambuco arrested two suspected bank robbers with three rifles (one of them a 0.50 caliber, which is considered a weapon of war), in addition to nine magazines and more than 300 rounds of ammunition, according to Interpol.
On March 15, PF agents and Brazilian Army soldiers seized 62 illegal weapons for sale at a facility in the city of Cabo Frio, state of Rio de Janeiro.
According to Interpol, authorities in the 13 countries seized 90,000 rounds of ammunition in total. The operation also curbed crimes related to arms trafficking. In Bolivia, for example, police rescued 33 victims of human trafficking at the La Paz bus terminal, reported EFE news agency.
Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said in a statement that firearms pose a “very serious threat” to the security and stability of South America.
“That is why transnational multi-agency cooperation is essential to identify and dismantle organized crime and the terrorist groups involved,” Stock concluded.