Interpol-backed crackdown on firearms smuggling in Latin America results in 560 arrests
Law enforcement agencies across Latin America have arrested 560 people and seized hundreds of guns and other weapons in an Interpol-backed crackdown on illicit firearms.
Eight countries across the region participated in the week-long operation, dubbed Trigger V, which involved specialist officers from the police, customs, immigration and military, as well as ballistics laboratories.
In total, investigators taking part in the effort seized 857 firearms, as well as more than 38,000 bullets, 20 grenades and various police and military uniforms.
The operation, which was coordinated from Interpol’s regional bureau in El Salvador and its headquarters in Lyon, France, is said to have dealt a significant blow to a criminal firearms smuggling network that is said to include members of the notorious MS-13 gang.
Law enforcement agencies from Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama contributed to the effort, which also resulted in the seizure of illegal drugs, stolen vehicles and $162,000 in cash.
These items were confiscated during 42,000 checks that took place at “hotspots” across the region, including at air, sea and land border entry points.
A number of key arrests were made during the regional crackdown, including the detention of an individual known as “Zeus o Mono”, who was the target of an Interpol Blue Notice.
The arrested individual is suspected of leading a transnational arms trafficking ring responsible for supplying weapons to the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Colombia.
A Honduran citizen subject to an Interpol Red Notice for numerous firearms and drugs offences was also arrested during the operation, as were 47 individuals in El Salvador, 18 of whom were said to have links to gangs such as the Barrio18 and MS-13.
Commenting on the success of the operation, Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said the arrests were an important step in dismantling illicit networks and protecting citizens, adding: “The availability and use of illegal guns pose a clear threat to global security, stability and development, whilst also providing a lucrative profit stream for criminals.
“Interpol’s role is to help member countries remove illicit weapons from circulation, but most importantly, dismantle the networks which facilitate ‒ and depend on ‒ their trade.”
Separately, Europol earlier this week announced that police in France have broken up an organised crime gang suspected to have been involved in the smuggling of firearms into the country from the US.
The operation, which took place at the end of last month, resulted in the arrest of seven suspects in France and one in the US, as well as the seizure of 60 handguns, 20 rifles and nine sticks of dynamites.
Researchers develop new ‘fingerprint’ tracking method for 3D-printed guns
In a discovery that could help law enforcement agencies across the globe track 3D-printed guns and counterfeit goods, a team of scientists at the University at Buffalo has found that no two 3D printers are the same, and that all have their own “fingerprints”.
The researchers claim to have developed what they describe as the world’s first accurate method for tracing a 3D-printed object to the device on which it was made.
Commenting on the discovery, study lead author Wenyao Xu said:”3D printing has many wonderful uses, but it’s also a counterfeiter’s dream. Even more concerning, it has the potential to make firearms more readily available to people who are not allowed to possess them.
“3D printers are built to be the same. But there are slight variations in their hardware created during the manufacturing process that lead to unique, inevitable and unchangeable patterns in every object they print.”
Xu and his team found that every layer of a 3D-printed object contains unique tiny wrinkles that can be used to identify various characteristics of the machine that was used to create it, including printer model type, filament, nozzle size and other factors.
To test their new tracking method, which they dubbed the PrinTracker project, the scientists printed five door keys from 14 common 3D printers.
They then scanned each of the door keys to create a digital image that was enhanced and filtered, allowing for the identification of the unique in-fill patterns of each object.
The researchers were then able to match each key to the printer on which it was produced with 99.8% accuracy.
Xu likened the tracking method to the ability to identify the source of paper documents, a practice that has been used by law enforcement agencies, printer companies and other organisations for decades.
Speaking with Vice News, David Chipman, Senior Policy Adviser at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said: “For this to be useful to law enforcement who would be tracing guns, you’d have to have a record of the unique signature of every 3D printer being sold. We can only match it if we already have a record of it.”
While 3D-printed guns are currently widely considered as being flimsy and unreliable, experts fear that as the technology advances, they could be routinely used by criminals and terrorists on account of the fact they were considered to be nearly impossible to trace.
Boost stop and search to cut gang-related gun and knife violence in London, UK think tank says
A British think tank has advised police in London to boost stop and search to tackle rampant knife, gun and gang crime in the UK capital.
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a right-leaning think tank cofounded by Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith in 2014, this morning published a report that said the Metropolitan Police should introduce a zero-tolerance approach to gang-related crime, similar to the type that has been successfully implemented in cities such as Glasgow, Boston and Cincinnati.
According to the report, entitled It Can Be Stopped, a firearm is illegally discharged every six to nine hours in London.
It also notes that almost half of Londoners say there are “no-go areas” in the city close to where they live that they will not travel to or through.
Noting the disparity between London’s 32 boroughs when it comes to crime figures, the CSJ recommends that Scotland Yard conduct a detailed assessment to establish which areas present the highest risk, and that the British Government include provisions for a Serious Violence Reduction Order (SVRO) within the Offensive Weapons Bill that is currently making its way through Parliament.
Speaking with the Daily Mail, Duncan Smith said: “Stop and search does two things. It tells the gangs they cannot move their guns and drugs around, making their lives much more difficult.
“People claim ‘it’s not fair’, but who are the communities affected by this the most? It’s the poorest communities in our country.”
He also said that gang members from London and other major cities found to have committed criminal offences should be forcibly moved to other parts of the country in a bid to reduce violence.
The report was published after the Met issued to Section 60 order to coincide with the Notting Hill Carnival over the weekend, giving its officers the power to stop and search people without the need for reasonable suspicion.
Commenting on the issuing of the order, Commander Dave Musker, who was in charge of the policing operation at the event, said: “The use of this authority will reassure our communities that we are constantly working to protect them. It will also send a message to those intent on committing acts of violence that we will robustly target them.
“Section 60s have been used tactically to prevent violence across London over the past few weeks and I can assure you they are not used without detailed analysis of intelligence.”
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- Dance music festivals fuelling rise in ecstasy use among young people in South America, UNODC claims
- Women and young girls from Myanmar trafficked as ‘sex slaves’ to families in China, HRW report warns
- An almost endless supply of vulnerable victims makes it all but impossible to stamp out vishing fraud
- Counterfeit goods rise to account for 3.3% of all global trade, OECD report reveals
9 February 2018
9 February 2018
8 February 2018
28 November 2017
28 November 2017
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