Arms seized in the Asuncion raid

A raid on a weapons "supermarket" in Paraguay has led officials to offer details of the inner workings of the country's arms trade, depicting a familiar mix of corruption, stolen military arms, and guns legally bought in the United States.

On March 9, security forces discovered an arsenal of high powered weaponry in a raid on a house in Paraguay's capital city of Asunción, which included machine guns, assault rifles, and armour piercing weapons, reported ABC. So far, three people have been arrested in the investigation.

Following the raid, the head of Paraguay's anti-narcotics forces, which participated in the operation, revealed the principal sources of blackmarket weapons in Paraguay, reported Hoy. According to Luis Rojas, most of the illegal arms used by criminals originate in Bolivia, Argentina and the United States. 

Arms from Bolivia and Argentina are generally stolen from the police and the military and then trafficked into Paraguay, said Rojas. Guns from the United States, meanwhile, are bought legally then broken down into parts and smuggled into Paraguay hidden in shipments of legal goods. The buyers of US guns typically pay between $800 and $1,000 and then sell them on to criminal groups for up to $20,000, he added.

According to Rojas, public officials are deeply involved in the trade, although he offered no names or further details as to which branches of the state he was referring.

InSight Crime Analysis

Rojas' description of arms trafficking in Paraguay reflects similar dynamics seen throughout much of Latin America.

Stolen military and police weapons are a major source of arms used by criminal and insurgent organizations operating in the region, including in El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. As was hinted at in Paraguay, the theft and trade of military weapons is commonly carried out or facilitated by corrupt members of the security forces or other government officials.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Arms Trafficking

The United States is also a popular source of weapons due to its loose gun control regulations, which allow people to buy even high-powered assault weapons with minimal oversight. These guns are often smuggled over the border into Mexico, where they either stay in cartel hands or are trafficked on to destinations such as Central America and Colombia.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
Prev Next

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against...