HomeNewsBriefUruguay Police Smuggled Weapons to Brazil
BRIEF

Uruguay Police Smuggled Weapons to Brazil

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 20 APR 2015 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Uruguay authorities are investigating police accused of trafficking some 300 weapons to Brazil, an indication that the most heavily armed country in South America -- in terms of per capita gun ownership -- may also serve as a valuable source of weaponry for criminal groups. 

On April 14, authorities detained three police officers and a businessman in the Uruguay-Brazil border city of Rivera as result of the investigation, reported Uruguayan newspaper El Pais. The detainees are suspected of trafficking 9-millimeter handguns and other semiautomatic pistols to the Brazilian cities of Porto Alegre and Pelotas between 2013 to 2015.

Brazilian criminal group the Red Command (Comando Vermelho) is one suspected recipient of the weapons, according to El Pais. 

Only a single road separates Rivera from its sister city in Brazil, Santana do Livramento, which facilitates smuggling. Brazilian police have previously identified Rivera as one of the two major entry points for weapons moved from Uruguay into Brazil -- the other is the city of Artigas, also on the Uruguay-Brazil frontier. 

InSight Crime Analysis

As documented in a 2009 report by research institute Small Arms Survey, Uruguay has the highest per capita gun ownership in South America, with one firearm for every three residents. According to El Observador, there are 87 guns for every 100,000 people in Uruguay's Rivera department, with 54 guns for every 100,000 people in the department of Artigas.

SEE ALSO: Uruguay News and Profiles

This proliferation of firearms has likely fed an illegal weapons trade with Brazil, although there have been few notable prosecutions against arms trafficking in Uruguay. One high-profile case also involved police in the department of Treinta y Tres (where there are 116 guns for every 100,000 residents). The investigation found that over 200 weapons were missing from the police department, suspected of being sold on the black market.

That case eventually stalled in court, partly due to Uruguay's weak gun trafficking laws. Congress did approve new gun trafficking legislation last year, which prohibits carrying weapons and munitions without a license, and create new regulations for weapon purchases. However, the law is not yet active. 

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 / 28 JUL 2022

Former Paraguay president, Horacio Cartes, is accused of money laundering at home, with US authorities also on his tail.

BRAZIL / 16 JUN 2021

Rio de Janeiro’s foremost militia leader has been gunned down by police, potentially shattering the belief that militias in the…

BRAZIL / 14 JUN 2022

A large-scale seizure of Irganox 1076 in Brazil show that this cutting agent is now being used to cut large…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…