Firearms operations and events

Operations targeting firearms trafficking hotspots have uncovered links between organized crime and terrorism.
Firearms focal points

February and April 2021, Guinea

As part of ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the INTERPOL Firearms Programme in Guinea, we helped establish 100 firearms focal points from the police, the gendarmerie, customs, military camps and the judicial services across the country’s seven administrative regions. Training provided to the focal points will enable them to trace weapons seized in their jurisdictions via the iARMS system and work with their counterparts to fully investigate firearms trafficking across the entire country. These activities took place under Project Disrupt, funded by the European Union (EU).

Training on the iARMS database has equipped officers in Guinea to exploit intelligence on trafficked firearms.
Training on the iARMS database has equipped officers in Guinea to exploit intelligence on trafficked firearms.
Activities to raise awareness of the INTERPOL Firearms Programme took place across Guinea.
Activities to raise awareness of the INTERPOL Firearms Programme took place across Guinea.
Major General Mohamed BANGOURA, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Guinea.
Major General Mohamed BANGOURA, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Guinea.
Inspector General Ansoumane CAMARA, Head of the National Police - Controller General of Police.
Inspector General Ansoumane CAMARA, Head of the National Police - Controller General of Police.
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Operation Trigger VI

March 2021, South America

A police operation targeting firearms trafficking across South America has seen thousands of illicit firearms seized, thousands of arrests and investigative leads generated on crime networks and smuggling routes.

Over three weeks, Operation Trigger VI saw the arrest of almost 4,000 suspects across all 13 South American countries,  with some 200,000 illicit firearms, parts, components, ammunition and explosives recovered.

Coordinated by INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the joint operation enabled police, customs, border and prosecution services to work together to track illegal firearms and identify potential links with organized crime.

The European Union funds Trigger operations and the iARMS database, the world’s only global illicit firearms database.

Pre-operational training

November and December 2020, Democratic Republic of the Congo

We delivered four training sessions in the Eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo to best prepare national law enforcement officers for upcoming operations in Central Africa. Affected by conflicts and armed groups, these provinces are where most illicit firearms are seized in the country.

The training helped establish firearm focal points and to set up a workflow between police, the Gendarmerie, customs and judicial services. In this way, data relating to firearms trafficking can be properly collected, and the intelligence exploited to support operations, investigations and prosecutions. Central to this is INTERPOL’s iARMS database (funded by the European Union).

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Operation Kafo II

30 November - 6 December 2020

Coordinated jointly by INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), frontline officers targeted smuggling hotspots at airports, seaports, and land borders in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger.

Officers checked more than 12,000 individuals, vehicles, containers and goods against international criminal databases. As well as arresting a number of suspected terrorists, officers seized 50 firearms, more than 40,000 sticks of dynamite and a range of other contraband goods such as fuel.

Operation KAFO II in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger targeted firearms trafficking in the region (photo: Cote d’Ivoire).
Operation KAFO II in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger targeted firearms trafficking in the region (photo: Cote d’Ivoire).
Frontline officers carried out checks at smuggling hotspots: airports, seaports, and land borders (photo: Burkina Faso).
Frontline officers carried out checks at smuggling hotspots: airports, seaports, and land borders (photo: Burkina Faso).
Law enforcement officers intercepted illicit firearms, ammunition and explosives, disrupting the trafficking networks used to supply terrorists across West Africa and the Sahel (photo: Mali).
Law enforcement officers intercepted illicit firearms, ammunition and explosives, disrupting the trafficking networks used to supply terrorists across West Africa and the Sahel (photo: Mali).
Officers seized firearms, ammunition and explosives (photo: Cote d’Ivoire).
Officers seized firearms, ammunition and explosives (photo: Cote d’Ivoire).
More than 40,000 sticks of dynamite were seized across several locations, intended for illegal gold mining which constitutes a source of terrorist financing (photo: Niger).
More than 40,000 sticks of dynamite were seized across several locations, intended for illegal gold mining which constitutes a source of terrorist financing (photo: Niger).
The Operation mobilized 260 officers from a wide range of law enforcement agencies (photo: Mali).
The Operation mobilized 260 officers from a wide range of law enforcement agencies (photo: Mali).
Pre-operational training delivered jointly by INTERPOL and UNODC ensured that officers had the skills required to use INTERPOL’s tools and databases to their full potential.
Pre-operational training delivered jointly by INTERPOL and UNODC ensured that officers had the skills required to use INTERPOL’s tools and databases to their full potential (photo: Burkina Faso).
Key to the Operation was INTERPOL’s illicit Arms Records and tracing Management System (iARMS) millions of records of lost, stolen, trafficked and smuggled firearms (photo: Burkina Faso).
Key to the Operation was INTERPOL’s illicit Arms Records and tracing Management System (iARMS) millions of records of lost, stolen, trafficked and smuggled firearms (photo: Burkina Faso).
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Operation Kafo I

11 - 17 November 2019

This regional operation in West Africa saw arrests and seizures in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Mali. Over seven days, 110 officers from police, customs, border and prosecution services intercepted illicit firearms and made connections with associated criminal activity, including terrorism.

From 11 - 17 November 2019, Operation KAFO saw arrests and firearms seizures in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali.
From 11 - 17 November 2019, Operation KAFO saw arrests and firearms seizures in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali.
Operation KAFO targeted firearms trafficking hotspots such as land border points where cars, buses, trucks and cargo transporters were searched.
Operation KAFO targeted firearms trafficking hotspots such as land border points where cars, buses, trucks and cargo transporters were searched.
The seven-day operation saw law enforcement intercept illicit firearms and make connections with associated criminal activity, including terrorism.
The seven-day operation saw law enforcement intercept illicit firearms and make connections with associated criminal activity, including terrorism.
Operation KAFO was jointly coordinated by INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
Operation KAFO was jointly coordinated by INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
Operation KAFO Involved 110 officers from police, customs, border and prosecution services from all three countries.
Operation KAFO Involved 110 officers from police, customs, border and prosecution services from all three countries.
Permanent Secretary of Burkina Faso’s National Commission to Combat the Proliferation and Illicit Circulation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, Colonel Major Christophe Raoul Tapsoba : “United, we will succeed in tackling cross-border crime through coordinated and concerted actions such as Operation KAFO, hand in hand with INTERPOL and UNODC.”
Permanent Secretary of Burkina Faso’s National Commission to Combat the Proliferation and Illicit Circulation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, Colonel Major Christophe Raoul Tapsoba : “United, we will succeed in tackling cross-border crime through coordinated and concerted actions such as Operation KAFO, hand in hand with INTERPOL and UNODC.”
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Operation Trigger V

22-28 February 2019

Operation Trigger V took place across eight countries in Latin America – Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama. 42,000 checks were carried out at known trafficking hotspots including land, air and sea border points.

Some 850 firearms were recovered and 560 individuals were arrested.

A vehicle check in Costa Rica uncovered two AK47 assault rifles, one of which had been recorded in INTERPOL’s iARMS database by a country in the Middle East.
A vehicle check in Costa Rica uncovered two AK47 assault rifles, one of which had been recorded in INTERPOL’s iARMS database by a country in the Middle East.
A pistol seized by Costa Rican authorities during Operation Trigger V.
A pistol seized by Costa Rican authorities during Operation Trigger V.
Costa Rica deployed more than 2,000 officers to 200 hotspots.
Costa Rica deployed more than 2,000 officers to 200 hotspots.
47 individuals in El Salvador, 18 of whom were linked to organized crime gangs such as the Barrio18 and MS13.
47 individuals in El Salvador, 18 of whom were linked to organized crime gangs such as the Barrio18 and MS13.
Honduran officials show some of the guns seized during Operation Trigger V.
Honduran officials show some of the guns seized during Operation Trigger V.
Mexican authorities on the US-Mexico border found bullets hidden in the back of car seats.
Mexican authorities on the US-Mexico border found bullets hidden in the back of car seats.
Operation Trigger V led to the seizure of 857 firearms, more than 38,000 bullets, 20 grenades and various police and military uniforms.
Operation Trigger V led to the seizure of 857 firearms, more than 38,000 bullets, 20 grenades and various police and military uniforms.
In Panama, an anonymous tip led police to a cache of ammunition, firearms and gallons of chemical and explosive materials.
In Panama, an anonymous tip led police to a cache of ammunition, firearms and gallons of chemical and explosive materials.
A woman was caught trying to smuggle bullets at the airport in Tijuana.
A woman was caught trying to smuggle bullets at the airport in Tijuana.
Mexico published an INTERPOL Purple Notice warning of a smuggling method involving dismantled firearms shipped via express courrier services.
Mexico published an INTERPOL Purple Notice warning of a smuggling method involving dismantled firearms shipped via express courrier services.
Operation Trigger V - Panama
Operation Trigger V - Panama
Operation Trigger V - Guatemala
Operation Trigger V - Guatemala
Colombian authorities with 'Zeus o Mono', supplying weapons to the National Liberation Army (ELN).
Colombian authorities with 'Zeus o Mono', supplying weapons to the National Liberation Army (ELN).
Operation Trigger V - Costa Rica
Operation Trigger V - Costa Rica
Operation Trigger V - Honduras
Operation Trigger V - Honduras
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Operation Trigger IV – MENA

18-26 September 2018, Middle East and North Africa

Operation Trigger IV took place across four countries in the Middle East and North Africa region – Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco. Checks were carried out at known trafficking hotspots including land, air and sea border points.

Some 57 firearms were recovered and 17 individuals arrested for firearms offences. Authorities also seized cash in several currencies totaling EUR 1.3 million along with heroin and synthetic drugs with a street value of EUR 200,000.

Operation Trigger IV took place across Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco.
Operation Trigger IV took place across Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco.
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Operation Trigger III

20-24 November 2017, Africa

This was a joint operation between INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Customs Organization and eight African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Nigeria).  Checks were carried out at known trafficking hotspots including land, air and sea border points.

Official seized 152 firearms and arrested 50 individuals for firearms-related offences. Significant quantities of drugs and counterfeited pharmaceutical products were also recovered during the operation. Subsequent investigations were conducted to establish the provenance of the firearms seized and to identify the people and networks involved in the firearms trafficking chain.             

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Operation Trigger II

6-8 April 2017, Europe

Some 7,840 officers from 23 countries across Europe seized some 320 illicit firearms – including a rocket launcher and a machine gun – and almost 20,000 pieces of ammunition, along with grenades and explosives.

Operation Balkan Trigger

17-19 April 2016, Southeast Europe

Some 5,000 officers from six countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia) seized nearly 40 illicit firearms, six kg of explosives, 11 hand grenades and other contraband. This operation clearly showed the link between firearms and other forms of organized crime activities

Police at a checkpoint in Skopje, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Operation Trigger II involved more than 7,840  law enforcement officers from 23 countries.
Firearms seized in Brcko, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Police in Skopje, Former Yugoslav Republic of Yugoslavia, intercepting a car and its occupants.
Police inspect a vehicle at a checkpoint in Zvornik, on the border with Serbia.
Illicit firearms and ammunition were seized during Operation Trigger II.
Through INTERPOL’s Illicit Arms Records & tracing Management System (iARMS), the international law enforcement community can facilitate information exchange and investigative cooperation on the international movement and use of illicit firearms.
Police at a checkpoint in Bijeljina, Republic of Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Operation Trigger II saw more than 158,000 people stopped at border crossing points, transit routes and known hotspots during a 48-hour period.
Led by INTERPOL, Operation Trigger II involved more than 7,840 officers working across 23 countries in Europe during a 48-hour period to intercept illicit firearms and identify links to crimes, including terrorism.
Police in the 23 participating countries checked information against INTERPOL's range of global databases during Operation Trigger II. 
Border Police in Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina, during Operation Trigger II.
Some 320 firearms – including a rocket launcher and a machine gun – and almost 20,000 pieces of ammunition together with grenades and explosives were recovered during Operation Trigger II.
A checkpoint in Zenica-Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Almost 40,000 vehicles were checked during Operation Trigger II.
The command centre in Minsk, Belarus, which acted as a coordination hub during Operation Trigger II.
Pre-operational meetings were held in coordination hubs in Minsk (pictured), Prague and Skopje.
A checkpoint in Trebinje, on the border with Montenegro.
Forensic and ballistics analysis on seized firearms, in Skopje, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The INTERPOL Firearms Recovery Protocol seeks to exploit and coordinate intelligence obtained on every recovered firearm through laboratory examinations and interviews with all individuals associated with the firearm.
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Simultaneous operations targeting small arms and light weapons (SALW)

10-11 December 2015, Southern Africa

Simultaneous operations targeting SALW were conducted in eight countries in Southern Africa. During the operation, 211 firearms and 972 rounds of ammunition were recovered.

For more information or questions, please contact the INTERPOL Firearms Programme.