The dragnet was conducted from March 12 to April 2. More than 14,000 people were arrested, and more than 8,000 firearms seized, as well as 305,000 cartridges, during “the largest firearms operation ever coordinated by Interpol” in Latin America, called “Trigger IX”, announced on Tuesday April 18 the international organization based in LyonIn France.
The operation also made it possible to seize 203 tons of cocaine and other narcotic products estimated at around 5.7 billion dollars, as well as 372 tons of “drug precursors” (chemicals used in the manufacture of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, amphetamines), Interpol said in a statement.
Some 100,000 pieces of ammunition were recovered in Uruguay, “internationally trafficked by two European nationals, marking the largest such seizure ever in the country”according to the same source.
Twenty criminal groups dismantled
“The fact that an operation targeting illicit firearms resulted in such massive drug seizures is further proof, if needed, that these crimes are connected”said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock, quoted in the statement.
Trigger IX further uncovered a range of other crimes, ranging from corruption to terrorist activities, and dismantled twenty organized crime groups in different countries. Arrested members of the Balkan Cartel, the powerful Brazilian organized crime network Primeiro Comando da Capital and Mara Salvatrucha, a Salvadoran mafia operating in Central America and the United States, all involved in arms trafficking, according to Interpol .
Eleven victims of human trafficking were freed in Paraguay thanks to this raid. Fifteen countries in the region – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, El Salvador, Uruguay – took part in the operation as well as around a hundred law enforcement agencies, including the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Interpol said.