HomeNewsBriefArgentina Traffickers Buying US Arms for Sale to Brazil Gangs
BRIEF

Argentina Traffickers Buying US Arms for Sale to Brazil Gangs

ARGENTINA / 11 APR 2019 BY JOSEFINA SALOMÓN EN

Arms traffickers in Argentina bought US AR-15 rifle parts, assembled the firearms, and then transported the arsenal in a military-style truck. The intended buyers of the high-powered weapons were powerful prison gangs in neighboring Brazil and Paraguay, in a case that shows how easily arms move in the lawless Tri-Border region.

A report by an Argentine judge has revealed the existence of the arms trafficking network several months after authorities seized more than 600 firearms, including hundreds of AR-15 rifles, in 11 locations in the province of Buenos Aires and across the country.

Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich said after the operation that the rifle parts had been purchased in Miami, and then sent via postal service to Argentina. Each package held sufficient parts for as many as five AR-15 rifles.

The semi-automatic weapons were then assembled, modified, and even tested prior to being packed for sale to crime groups in Brazil and Paraguay. The arms were transported to the neighboring countries in a silver Kia truck outfitted with army insignias that likely had been bought in a military auction.

The rifle parts cost about $1,500. The assembled firearms sold for as much as $12,000 in Paraguay and $20,000 in Brazil.

SEE ALSO: Argentina News and Profile

The operation, labeled “Clandestine Arsenal” (Arsenal Clandestino) was carried out in November after government officials in the United States alerted Argentina of suspicious packages traveling from Miami to Buenos Aires.

After substituting the real rifle parts with fakes, authorities in Argentina tracked one of the packages to where the arms were being assembled.

A number of arrests have been made since, including of members of the postal service, accused of colluding with crime groups.

InSight Crime Analysis

The dismantling of the illegal arms network, which operated out of Argentina and sold weapons to criminal groups in neighboring Brazil and Paraguay, shows how the Tri-Border region thrives as a criminal hub.

When presenting the results of the operation, Minister Bullrich was quick to suggest that Brazil’s Red Command (Comando Vermelho - CV), a prison gang, was the main buyer of the arms. Even though authorities have yet to confirm this, what is clear is that both the Red Command and its gang rival, the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC) are strengthening and expanding in the region.

The PCC has been particularly visible in Paraguay, and to a lesser extent in Argentina, in recent years.

SEE ALSO: GameChangers 2018: The Criminal ‘Winners’ in Latin America

The trafficking network was clearly prepared to move a lot of weaponry, and one of the group's members was even an expert in modifying firearms, according to La Nación. AR-15 rifles can be altered in a way that allows them to shoot bursts of ammunition, similar to the military grade M4 rifle, which is the weapon of choice for Rio de Janeiro's mafias.

Authorities in Argentina were quick to celebrate the success of “Clandestine Arsenal,” the largest operation they have carried out against arms trafficking organizations in recent years. The operation is also the latest example of successful cooperation between authorities in Argentina and the United States, which increasingly seem to be sharing intelligence and strategies to combat organized crime groups.

Ironically, however, the United States' lax gun laws and Argentina's weak border and customs controls were what made illegal arms trade possible.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 31 MAR 2020

A number of criminal groups across Latin America are ordering ceasefires and exerting control over local communities as fears of…

ARGENTINA / 14 NOV 2016

Paraguay is exporting more soybeans than it produces in a tell-tale sign of a booming contraband smuggling trade that utilizes…

BRAZIL / 30 MAY 2012

The story of a Brazilian campaigner forced to flee her Amazon home by death threats from illegal loggers underscores the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.