Ecuador Weapons Seizure Points to Thriving Small Arms Trade

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    Ecuador’s military seized 170 firearms in the south of the country, raising the issue once again of the country’s importance as a transit nation for small arms moving to Colombia.

    The seizure, which included some 7,000 rounds of munition, shotguns, handguns and rifles, came in the southern province of El Oro which borders Peru. No arrests were made.

    Ecuadorean authorities carried out the operation just one week after they found a similar, though smaller, cache of weapons in the area, according to the news agency Andes.

    InSight Crime Analysis

    The possible destination of the weapons was not made clear by authorities. However, previous seizures have pointed to connections with the Colombian rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). This most recent cache may well have similar links.

    One of the biggest operations against arms-trafficking came in March last year when Ecuadorean authorities dismantled an alleged FARC firearms factory in Quito. The FARC have long maintained munition factories in Ecuadorean territory as a way of evading Colombian authorities. This history of involvement in the arms trade in Ecuador would seemingly make the FARC a potential recipient for the 170 firearms if indeed they were being moved north.

    Ecuador has long been a source country of black market weapons for Colombia, according to a report by RAND, with trafficked small arms often being stolen from military stockpiles or illegally resold by corrupt private security firms.

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