INTERPOL recently published details on its largest coordinated firearms operation ever, called Trigger IX. The operation allowed local authorities in multiple countries to make thousands of arrests and firearm seizures. The operation lasted three weeks(March 12 to April 2)  throughout 15 countries across Central and South America, with the primary goal of locating illicit firearms.  

INTERPOL reports that it gathered firearms experts from participating countries at Foz do Iguaçu in the tri-border area, bordering Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, as an operational hub to support frontline actions and ensure the swift exchange and cross-checking of intelligence. 

Although Red Notices may seem irrelevant to this operation, Operation Trigger IX and those like it can lead to Red Notices and and affect Red Notice subjects. To fully understand the connection between this operation and Red Notice subjects, let’s first review Operation Trigger IX’s results. 

Operation results as reported by INTERPOL

  • Authorities seized 8,263 firearms.
  • Authorities made 14,260 arrests. 
  •  In Uruguay, 100,000 pieces of ammunition trafficked internationally by two European nationals were seized by authorities, marking the country’s largest-ever ammunition seizure.
  • Authorities in Brazil and Paraguay shut down several firearms dealerships following the identification of irregular transfers and unlicensed sales.

Operation Trigger IX was enormously effective in achieving its goal and the operation additionally garnered unforeseen results. 

Unforeseen results

  • INTERPOL’s coordinations led to authorities’ disruption of 20 organized criminal groups, including the arrest of members of Primeiro Comando da Capital, Mara Salvatrucha, and the Balkans Cartel, all involved in firearms trafficking.
  •  Authorities dismantled a human trafficking ring, from which 11 victims were rescued in Paraguay.
  • A 32-year-old woman was arrested at the land border between Paraguay and Brazil with eight pistols and 16 chargers taped to her body.
  • In cooperation with Venezuela, police in Colombia arrested a Venezuelan national INTERPOL Red Notice subject for terrorism and arms trafficking.

Operation’s effect on Red Notice subjects

As seen in the bullet point above highlighting the arrest of a Red Notice subject, Operation Trigger IX and similar operations affect Red Notice Subjects. Red Notice subjects, a percentage of whom are actually law-abiding citizens, are most commonly found during international travel, immigration proceedings requiring background checks, and contact with domestic law enforcement officials.

Operations like this one typically require an influx of law enforcement officials with the power to locate and identify a Red Notice subject through INTERPOL’s systems. While Operation Trigger IX had a positive effect making thousands of presumably legitimate arrests and seizures, it also caused a widespread increase in law enforcement officials’ interactions with people, which is typically the manner in which invalid Red Notices are issued or acted upon.

Not only can Operations like this aid in locating Red Notice subjects, but they can also produce Red Notices. If a suspected perpetrator’s location becomes unknown, law enforcement may request a Red Notice released in their name to help locate them.  

Looking ahead, INTERPOL states that some 30 investigations were opened as a result of actions on the ground, and authorities identified 15 new modus operandi for the illicit manufacturing, trafficking, and concealment of firearms, with INTERPOL’s Purple Notice* leveraged to help alert member countries.

Up next: the link between illicit firearms and drug trafficking. 

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

*A Purple Notice is used to seek or provide information on modus operandi, objects, devices, and concealment methods used by criminals.