Project Disrupt

Fighting arms trafficking in Latin America, West and Central Africa

Timeframe: 2021 - 2024
Budget: EUR 3 million
Donor: European Union

The situation

Firearms trafficking enables and aggravates organized crime activities, armed conflict and terrorism, endangering the safety of citizens and affecting the well-being of communities worldwide.

The lack of reliable information on firearms trafficking makes it difficult for countries to cooperate in order to effectively prevent, investigate and prosecute this transnational crime.

Under the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), UN member states acknowledged illicit arms trafficking as an impediment to peace, security and development. They committed to “significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows and combat all forms of organized crime” by 2030.

Project aims

The overall objective of Project DISRUPT is to fight illicit firearms trafficking by linking law enforcement efforts with broader criminal justice responses in Central and South America as well as in West and Central Africa.

INTERPOL and UNDOC will work together to help beneficiary countries develop their capacity, promote adequate security and highlight the key dangers associated with firearms trafficking.

Project DISRUPT will:

  • Strengthen member countries’ capacity to detect and prosecute arms trafficking offences through intelligence-led law enforcement operations;
  • Identify trends, routes and patterns in firearms trafficking;
  • Increase understanding of the nature and extent of illicit trafficking in firearms;
  • Collect and analyse firearms data, at national and international levels;
  • Provide an adequate legal framework on both firearms control and criminal justice enforcement measures and mechanisms.

Project activities

INTERPOL will establish firearm focal points and set up a workflow between police, the gendarmerie, customs, military and judicial services of beneficiary countries to provide training courses, which  focus on:

  • Methods and techniques specific to firearms trafficking investigations;
  • INTERPOL tools and policing capabilities;
  • Firearms identification and the use of INTERPOL’s Firearms Reference Table;
  • INTERPOL Firearms Protocol and best practices of firearms investigations;
  • Developing records keeping of illicit firearms;
  • Querying and Tracing intelligence on recovered firearms through iARMS;
  • Responding to international trace requests;
  • Detection, trends, and emerging threats.

At the same time, UNODC will work closely with law enforcement and the criminal justice system to support investigations to counter firearms trafficking cases and related crimes.

Project Updates

Operation Trigger IX – Latin America

12 March - 2 April 2023

In the biggest firearms operation ever coordinated by INTERPOL, authorities from 15 countries across Central and South America made 14,260 arrests and seized some 8,200 illicit firearms, as well as 300,000 rounds of ammunition. The links between illicit firearms and drug manufacturing and trafficking were thrown into sharp relief with the seizure of 203 tonnes of drugs together worth some USD 5.7 billion, and 372 tonnes of drug precursors. The operation, which saw the collaboration of US agencies, also identified connections with a range of other crimes such as corruption, fraud, human trafficking, environmental crime, and terrorist activities.

Read full story

Operation Trigger VIII – West and Central Africa

13 - 19 June 2022

Operation Trigger VIII involved some 520 law enforcement officials targeting 35 hotspots across eight African countries: Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Trigger VIII targeted the movement of illicit firearms in Central and West Africa and led to some 120 arrests and the seizure of firearms, gold, drugs, fake medication, wildlife products and cash.