Arms Trafficking

Over the span of 10 years, thousands of people have been killed due to religious and ethnic violence in the Central Nigerian region known as the Middle Belt.

Contributing to the violence is an estimated 5,000 firearms that were illegally trafficked into the area. Out of those illicit arms, about 3,500 are AK-47s that were produced in France and Ukraine and smuggled to Nigeria. The remaining 1,500 are locally produced firearms.

(Prices of AK-47s and other weapons on the black market.)

Source:  Alexis Okeowo, “The Arms-Trade Treaty and the Gun Seller,” New Yorker, September 9, 2013.

There are over 700 legitimate private security companies in Honduras that are staffed with over 70,000 security guards.  In comparison, there are 16,00 police officers and 14,000 army soldiers in the country.

There are around 300 illegal security companies operating in the country. Government security officials claim that organized crime groups create security companies in order to illegally traffic firearms into the country.

650,000 of the 800,000 firearms that circulate within Honduras are illegal unlicensed weapons. Between 2011 and 2013, roughly 100,000 weapons were believed to have been trafficked into Honduras.

(Gun prices on the black market.)

Source:  Rene Novoa, “Honduras: Organized crime infiltrates security companies,” Infosurhoy, September 4, 2013.

Law enforcement officials in the US State of Oregon have identified at least 69 drug trafficking organizations operating in the state.

In 2011, police were able to seized $4 Million in drug proceeds from the traffickers.

Between 2005 and 2012, security officials in Mexico traced 800 guns that were found and used in Mexico back to Oregon.

Source:  Les Zaitz, “Drug cartels in Oregon: How traffickers operate,” Oregonian, June 21, 2013.


Between 2006 and 2012, the Canadian Border Services Agency seized over 65,000 illegal weapons along the border with the United States. Firearms made up approximately one third of all illegal weapons seized at the border.

Security experts believe that most guns entering Canada are able to pass through the border with ease. The CBC reported that in 2011, Border agents seized 673 guns at Canadian entry ports such as airports, mail centers and land border crossing.  In comparison, police across the country seized 33,727 firearms during 2011.

(Price of AK-47s and other guns on the black market.)

Source: “Border agents want more resources to stop gun smuggling,” CBC News, June 14, 2013.

There are an estimated 597,458 unlawfully held guns in circulation in Croatia. In relations to the population, there are 13.29 illicit firearms per 100 people in Croatia.

(More arms trafficking statistics.)

Source:  “Croatia — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law,”, Accessed: May 31, 2013.

A report released by the Collective Security Analysis for Democracy stated that there were 2.8 million unregistered firearms in Central America, and an additional 15 million unregistered guns in Mexico.

According to the study, the majority of these guns are used by organized crime gangs and drug trafficking cartels to carry out their illicit activities.

The Central America Region has the world’s highest gun-homicide rate, with 41 people being killed by guns per 10,000 people.

According to statistics released by criminal justice programs, Honduras has a gun-homicide rate of 85.5 people per 10,000, followed by El Salvador with 69.2 homicides, Guatemala with 38.5, Mexico with 22.7, Panama with 18, and Costa Rica with 11.3 gun-related homicides.

The World Health Organization states that 5 homicides per 10,000 is considered normal, with over 10 homicides per 10,000 being an “epidemic”.

The unregistered guns in the region comes from four main sources. The first source is through straw buyers who purchase firearms on behalf of the drug cartels. The second source is by purchasing guns from corrupt military soldiers in Guatemala and Honduras. The third source is finding left over supplies from the civil wars that took place in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 1980s. And the last source of unregistered firearms is through the crafting of home-made weapons known as chimbas. The guns are handcrafted and uses a welded pipe and can fire a single shotgun cartridge.

(Prices of Ak-47s and other firearms on the black market.)

Source:  Sergio Ramos, “Weapons trafficking increases in Central America, Mexico,” Infosurhoy, May 30, 2013.

More arms trafficking data.

Financial experts estimate that up to $17 Billion of money from drug trafficking, arms trafficking and human trafficking in Colombia is laundered each year. The amount of money laundering that takes place in Colombia is over 5 percent of the country’s GDP.

Out of the total amount laundered in the country, an estimated $8.8 Billion is proceeds from Colombia’s illegal drug trade.

In 2012, federal security officials seized $128 Million worth of black market products, less than 10 percent of the total illicit trade.

In an example of how the money is laundered, authorities stated that one way is through fake gold sales. Colombia produces 15 tons of gold each  year, but the amount of gold that is exported from the country is reported to be 70 tons. The bulk of the higher reported gold sales is believed to be fictitious sales.

(More examples of money laundering.)

Source:  Helen Murphy and Nelson Bocanegra, “Money laundering distorts Colombia’s economic comeback,” Reuters, May 28, 2013.

M67 grenades that were supplied to Central America during the cold war has ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Agents with the United States Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm and Explosives (ATF) have traced grenades from the United States that were originally sent to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Between 1980 and 1993, around 260,000 M67 grenades were sent from the United States to El Salvador.

Many of these grenades are now being sold on the black market in Mexico. According to author Ioan Grillo, the grenades are being sold to the drug cartels for $100 to $500 per grenade.

(Prices of guns and weapons on the black market.)

Source:  Ioan Grillo, El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency, Bloomsbury Press: New York, 2012, page 217.

An investigation by the Toronto Star reported on how guns are purchased in the United States and trafficked into Canada.

The report stated that a gun would first be purchased in the United States for $150. The gun would then be smuggled across the border and sold in the City of Windsor for $800 to $1,000 to a trafficker. The trafficker would then move the gun further north into the City of Toronto, where that gun is sold for at least $2,000.

(More prices of guns and firearms bought on the black market.)

Pistols in Toronto are also available for rent for $600 per night, according to the Toronto Star.

Up to 70 percent of all crimes involving guns in Canada involve firearms purchased in the United States and smuggled into the country.

Source:  David Bruser and Jayme Poisson, “Star investigation: How one U.S. gun broker moved firearms across the border,” Toronto Star, April 18, 2013.

Source:  Jayme Poisson and David Bruser, “Hundreds of illegally made gun parts seized in online trafficking bust,” Toronto Star, April 23, 2013.

(See all arms trafficking intelligence.)

There are an estimated 600,000 unlicensed guns and firearms in circulation in the Philippines.

The number of legally bought guns for sale in the country and officially registered was 1.2 million guns in 2012.

One unlicensed seller was quoted by the media as that he had a .22 caliber Magnum Black Widow gun for sale that he was offering for  $120 (5,000 Philippine Peso) on the black market.

(More guns for sale on the black market.)

Source:  AFP, “Guns black market thriving in Philippines,” Google News, April 11, 2013.