Interpol has carried out its biggest firearms operation, called “Trigger IX,” in Central and South America. Over 14,000 people have been arrested and 8,000 weapons seized. The raids also resulted in the seizure of over 200 tonnes of cocaine and other drugs worth $5.7 billion, as well as 370 tonnes of drug precursors. Interpol said that the operation had helped uncover other crimes, including corruption, fraud, human trafficking, environmental crime, and terrorist activities. The countries that participated were Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) also assisted in the operation.
Interpol’s chief Juergen Stock said that the operation’s success demonstrated the link between firearms and drug trafficking. Police and other authorities seized 305,000 rounds of ammunition during the operation. The haul of 100,000 rounds in Uruguay was the country’s largest-ever such seizure and was trafficked internationally by two European nationals. Members of the Balkans Cartel, Brazilian organised crime outfit PrimeiRo Comando da Capital and El Salvador’s Mara Salvatrucha mafia were all arrested over arms trafficking. Eleven trafficked people were also freed in Paraguay. The European Union funded the operation.