The federal government busted a huge gun-running gang that was using the U.S. mail to send thousands of guns and gun parts to South America.
Last Friday, the Miami Herald reported that the feds busted a black market ring that was dealing in illegal firearms snaring a whopping 5,300 firearms and gun parts the group was attempting to send through the mail to Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.
According to the Herald:
The vast majority of the weapons smuggled out of South Florida — including more than 2,500 AR-15 rifles, handguns and grenades, along with some military-grade aircraft and tank weaponry — were confiscated in Argentina in that country’s largest illegal firearms haul ever, U.S. officials said during a news conference at HSI’s office in Doral. Argentine authorities arrested more than 20 suspects and seized about $100,000 in cash.
“With this partnership, we prevented the illicit sale and proliferation of a significant cache of weapons by keeping them out of the hands of criminals and transnational criminal organizations operating in Argentina and Brazil,” said Matthew T. Albence, deputy director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the paper said.
“The international law enforcement community is sending a strong message that there is nowhere in the world that we won’t pursue criminal activity together,” said Anthony Salisbury, the special agent in charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in Miami
Salisbury described South Florida as a “hub for weapons trafficking to South America.”
Special agent Salisbury reported that law enforcement agencies in Brazil and Argentina help the U.S. snare the ring.
The seizure occurred as part of 50 raids carried out in South Florida.
The government added that parts for the weapons can cost around $1,500 in the U.S. but when assembled, they can bring $12,000 in Paraguay and $20,000 in Brazil.
But the feds also noted that U.S. gun laws are not the reason for the smuggling operation.
Albence said the pipeline of weapons flowing between South Florida and South America was not a result of U.S. gun laws, but more a function of the unlawful markets of drugs, firearms and other contraband trafficked by criminals with a presence in both regions. “A lot of them are criminals who have ties here,” Albence said. “At the end of the day, it’s all for the money.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.