La Red ARCO activa mecanismos para operaciones de inteligencia policial
Brazil / Police Cooperation

The ARCO Network activates mechanisms for law enforcement intelligence operations between Latin America and Europe

29 March 2022

Illegal arms trafficking is of the utmost importance to the activities of criminal organisations. The illegal activities of these groups, one of which is drug trafficking, bring them rich returns, and having weapons gives them control of their territory and enables them to protect their goods.These weapons, their parts, components, ammunition and related materials, which include explosives and explosive precursors, originate in legal markets from authorised manufacturers which are diverted to illegal markets at some point in their transport, sale or storage.

That’s why Latin American countries that have carried out an initial Transnational Organised Crime Threat Assessment – IDEAL, have identified firearms trafficking as a very important priority for dealing with criminality in the Latin American region.

With this in mind, the countries in the Network of Police Specialized in Arms Trafficking – ARmas Cooperación or (ARCO)  have confirmed the existence of at least 436 organised criminal groups (OCG) involved in multiple criminal activities with extensive territorial mobility and are preparing to join forces and take action with a more holistic approach to the OCG through inter-institutional coordination and international cooperation.

Taking action together to combat firearms trafficking

Countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, in addition to EU member countries, all participants in the ARCO Network , have decided to strengthen operational cooperation and  information sharing to fight against illegal arms trafficking between both regions. The network has carried out several activities since its creation, such as conducting a survey on the impact of COVID-19 on illegal arms trafficking, arms cyber patrolling training, firearms traceability training, among other initiatives that have already served as a bridge for secure information sharing between countries and for obtaining a broader overview of how to deal with this scourge that affects both regions.


The Arco network and synergies with the EMPACT (European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats)

EL PAcCTO, the European Union’s international cooperation programme, held an ARCO Network meeting last week. It was an opportunity for discussion of open cases shared between all countries to achieve more effective cooperation through the exchange of good practices, modi operandi and promoting a dialogue between the two continents, in addition to presenting the actions that have already been launched such as the evaluation of the threat on the issue of illicit arms trafficking in the region and that includes parts, components, ammunition, explosive precursors with EU support for research in the region.

One of the general objectives of the meeting held is undoubtedly to boost the capacities of police institutions in the control and interception of firearms, and to investigate arms trafficking to bolster information-sharing mechanisms between all those involved.

Work has been done to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies to investigate cases of arms trafficking and to better coordinate regional initiatives to dismantle illicit firearms trafficking networks by connecting firearms specialists in Latin America and Europe, developing inter-institutional and international coordination mechanisms in the region.


Resuming ties between countries of the ARCO Network

Experts from the security forces of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, Ameripol and Frontex have worked to improve exchanges of good practices, modi operandi and state-of-the-art of arms trafficking through Arco Magazine, as well as information and investigation methods in cases of large-scale trafficking, focusing on firearms to dismantle bands of criminals responsible for major arms trafficking by implementing advanced joint research methodologies among all participating countries.


The ARCO Network

The organisation is made up of specialised police officers from 16 countries in Latin America and Europe assigned to fighting illegal weapons trafficking. Its main mission is to break up criminal organisations trading in firearms, parts, components, ammunition, explosives, and explosive precursors. The network streamlines information sharing between the points of contact to organise investigations within the legal framework of each country.