A police operation targeting an illegal arms-trafficking network last month across South America led to the arrest of around 4,000 suspects and the seizing of thousands of illicit firearms, Interpol carried out last month Tuesday.
Operation 'Trigger VI' saw talmost 4,000 suspects taken into custody in all 13 South American countries, with around 200,000 illicit firearms, parts, components, ammunition and explosives seized.
Some of the arrests made included members of a Uruguayan gang, who were using social media to promote violence by posting photographs of themselves flaunting illegal weapons.
In Peru, huge quantities of ammunition coming from the Triple Frontier region (taking in parts of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil) were confiscated and two fugitives wanted by the United States were detained.
The continental operation also resulted in the seizure of numerous counterfeit weapons mostly in Brazil, the destruction of 27 cocaine laboratories in Bolivia, and the rescue of 33 victims of human trafficking, Interpol said.
Besides the arrests made and the items seized, authorities were able to uncover various investigative leads on crime networks and smuggling routes, said the international crime organisation.
The operation took place between March 8 and 23 and was coordinated by Interpol and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), who worked together to search people and vehicles at suspected hotspots and air, land and sea borders across South America.
Police, customs, border and prosecution services carried out nearly 10,000 checks against Interpol databases to track illegal firearms and identify potential links with organised crime.
“Firearms present a very serious threat to South America’s security and stability. This is why multi-agency transnational cooperation is essential to identify and dismantle the organised crime and terrorist groups involved,” said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
“Operation Trigger VI has seen thousands of illicit weapons taken out of the hands of criminals and is testimony to the commitment of South American law enforcement despite the challenges of a global pandemic,” added Secretary General Stock.