Law enforcement officials in Latin America have seized over $5 billion worth of cocaine and other drugs as well as 8,263 illicit firearms, according to new reports.
As outlined by the BBC, the police operation, named Trigger IX and co-ordinated by Interpol, lasted three weeks and spanned 15 countries, with 14,260 arrests being made.
Overall, the report says that around 223 tons of cocaine and other drugs were found, with a further 410 tons of drug precursors seized.
The Latin American countries involved were Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
The report says that the operation’s main goal was to tackle the illegal movement and trade of firearms.
Officials from participating countries met in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil from 12 March to 2 April. There, they were able to exchange intelligence and information about international crime gangs.
“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 Secretary General Jürgen Stock said.
“The organized crime networks behind all of these illicit activities have only one priority, which is profit. We, as law enforcement, must be equally determined to dismantle them across every region and globally.”
The operation led to the seizing of 305,000 rounds of ammunition, including in countries not usually associated with large-scale gun violence.
Police in Uruguay are reported to have secured 100,000 pieces of ammunition, the largest ever amount seized in the country.