Interpol agents.
A coordinated operation between agents from 15 different countries. Photo: @INTERPOL_HQ.

Latin America: Successful Interpol operation against illicit firearms

The organization considers this to be the biggest hit against arms dealers in the region.


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Operation Trigger IX, which ran from March 12 to April 2, resulted in 14,260 arrests in 15 countries and led to the seizure of 8,263 weapons and 305,000 rounds of ammunition.

Interpol statement points out:

With illicit firearms used by criminals to commit armed robberies and murder, they are also closely associated with the proliferation of a wide range of other crimes using the same trafficking routes.

Qualified as the largest operation coordinated by Interpol against illegal firearms in Latin America, the countries that were part of it are: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.

Interpol highlighted how the links between illicit firearms and drug manufacturing and trafficking remain in force, highlighting the seizure of 203 tons of cocaine and other drugs for a total value of $5,7 billion, and 372 tons of precursors of drugs.

Law enforcement across INTERPOL’s 195 member countries have reported record drug seizures in the past year and, in many cases, a spike in drug-related violence, fueled by the traffic of illegal firearms. The operation, which saw an unprecedented level of cooperation across 15 countries, also identified a range of other crimes such as corruption, fraud, human trafficking, environmental crime and terrorist activities,” highlighted the statement.

Outstanding Results

  • Operation Trigger IX coordinated actions led to the disruption of 20 organized criminal groups, including the arrest of members of Primeiro Comando da Capital, Mara Salvatrucha and the Balkans Cartel, all involved in firearms trafficking.
  • In Uruguay, 100,000 pieces of ammunition trafficked internationally by two European nationals were seized by authorities, marking the country’s largest-ever such seizure.
  • Authorities in Brazil and Paraguay shut down several firearms dealerships following the identification of irregular transfers and unlicensed sales.
  • 11 victims were rescued in Paraguay, when authorities dismantled a human trafficking ring.
  • In cooperation with Venezuela, police in Colombia arrested a Venezuelan national subject to an INTERPOL Red Notice for terrorism and arms trafficking.
  • A 32 year old woman was arrested at the land border between Paraguay and Brazil with eight pistols and 16 chargers taped to her body.

Looking ahead, Interpol indicated that nearly 30 investigations were opened as a result of actions on the ground, and authorities identified 15 new modus operandi for the illicit manufacturing, trafficking and concealment of firearms, taking advantage of Interpol’s Purple Notice to help alert member countries.


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