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CorruptionLatin America

Interpol: Drugs worth billions seized in Latin America

April 19, 2023

Authorities arrested thousands of people and seized more than 200 tons of cocaine and other drugs as part of operation "Trigger IX." Interpol said the raids were carried out with the cooperation of 15 countries.

An interpol officer walking next to an arrested woman
Operation Trigger IX led to the arrest of over 14,000 peopleImage: Sebastian Barros/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Interpol said it has carried out its largest-ever firearms operation in Central and South America, leading to the arrest of over 14,000 people and the seizure of thousands of illegal weapons and drugs worth billions of dollars.

Between March 12 and April 2, the international police organization carried out the EU-funded "Operation Trigger IX" with the unprecedented cooperation of 15 countries.

"The fact that an operation targeting illicit firearms resulted in such massive drugs seizures is further proof, if needed, that these crimes are intertwined," Interpol chief Jürgen Stock said.

During the raids, authorities found some 8,263 illicit weapons and nearly 306,000 rounds of ammunition. They also seized 203 tons of drugs and 372 tons of drug precursors that are worth $5.7 billion.

Interpol said it had also made 14,260 arrests as part of its "biggest firearms operation."

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'Operation Trigger IX' uncovers other crimes

Authorities said their operation disrupted the activity of 20 criminal groups, including the Brazilian crime syndicate Primeiro Comando da Capital, the Salvadoran youth gang Mara Salvatrucha, and the Balkans Cartel.

The operation by the France-based police cooperation body came as Mexico, along with 16 US states and some Caribbean countries, sought to hold US gun manufacturers responsible for arms trafficking across borders through a civil lawsuit.

Interpol said the operation helped uncover other crimes including "corruption, fraud, human trafficking, environmental crime and terrorist activities."

The operation also led to the rescue of 11 trafficked people in Paraguay.

The countries participating in the operation included Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

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mf/nm (dpa, Reuters, AFP)