Interpol's Operation Trigger IX has successfully led to the arrest of over 14,000 individuals across Latin America, resulting in the seizure of more than 45,000 illegal firearms and over 350,000 rounds of ammunition. The operation, which was conducted over several months, involved law enforcement agencies from 15 countries working together to dismantle criminal organizations involved in the illicit trade of firearms.
The illegal trade of firearms is a major problem in Latin America, contributing to high levels of violence and crime. Criminal organizations involved in the trade often operate across borders, making it difficult for individual countries to effectively combat the issue on their own. This is where Interpol comes in, providing a platform for international cooperation between law enforcement agencies to combat transnational crime.
Operation Trigger IX focused on disrupting the supply chain and distribution networks of illegal firearms, particularly those being smuggled into countries with high demand for such weapons, such as Brazil and Mexico. The operation targeted criminal organizations involved in the trade, with the goal of dismantling them entirely.
The success of the operation is evident in the sheer number of arrests made and firearms seized. In addition to the 14,000 arrests, the operation resulted in the seizure of 45,000 firearms, including rifles, handguns, and even military-grade weapons. These firearms were found in various stages of the supply chain, from production to distribution and use.
The seizure of over 350,000 rounds of ammunition and other related materials, including explosives, also highlights the scale of the problem of illegal firearms in Latin America. Such materials are often used to fuel violence and crime in the region, contributing to a cycle of poverty and insecurity.
The links between illicit firearms and drug manufacturing and trafficking were thrown into sharp relief, with the seizure of 203 tonnes of cocaine and other drugs together worth some USD 5.7 billion, and 372 tonnes of drug precursors during Operation Trigger IX.
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.
Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock praised the success of Operation Trigger IX, emphasizing the importance of international cooperation in tackling transnational crime. On the ground, 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.
Stock stated that "Operation Trigger IX is a clear demonstration of the power of international cooperation in the fight against transnational crime. By working together, law enforcement agencies across the region have sent a strong message to criminal organizations involved in the illegal trade of firearms - we will not tolerate this activity and we will take action to stop it."
The success of Operation Trigger IX is a significant step forward in the fight against the illegal trade of firearms in Latin America. However, it is important to note that the problem is far from solved. Criminal organizations involved in the trade of illegal firearms are highly adaptive and will continue to find new ways to operate. It is therefore crucial that international cooperation continues and is strengthened in the fight against transnational crime. Only through a united effort can the issue of illegal firearms and the violence it fuels be effectively addressed.