Arms Trafficking

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) reported that up to 175 criminal gangs across Canada use revenue generated from cigarette smuggling to finance other criminal activities such as human smuggling and arms trafficking.

Source: Matt Goerzen, “Tobacco shop opens again despite raid,” Winnipeg Free Press, November 17, 2011.

There are an estimated 1.6 million illegal arms being trafficked around Guatemala in 2011.

The homicide rate in the country was 52 people per 100,000 in 2011.

Source: Guy Adams, “Guatemala’s bloody battle with Mexican drug cartels,” Independent, November 5, 2011.

Authorities in Mexico seize around 100,000 weapons in the country each year. About 30 percent of the weapons are sent to the United States for analysis, and 80 percent of those are found to have been made in the United States. Please note that this does not mean that the United States was the origin and supplier of these weapons.  For example, significant numbers of rocket launchers and grenades are U.S. made, but was supplied into Mexico from Guatemala.

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

Source: Stephanie Nebehay, “U.S. role in arming Mexico’s drug war exaggerated-study,” Reuters, October 27, 2011.


Ammunition for firearms in Mexico are strictly regulated, creating a black market smuggling trade from the United States. In Fiscal Year 2007, the six entry ports in the border state of Arizona seized 760 rounds of ammunition from smugglers. In the 2011 Fiscal Year, 95,416 rounds of ammunition was seized by Custom officials.

Source: Robert Anglen, “Smuggled U.S. ammo feeds drug wars,” USA Today, October 9, 2011.

There are an estimated 850,000 firearms in circulation in Honduras.

258,000 firearms are officially registered with the government, according to a report by the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights.

More than 80 percent of homicides in Honduras involves a gun.

Source: Ronan Graham, “Honduras Guns Feeding Central America’s Arms Trade,” InSight, August 12, 2011.

In 2008, the United Nations estimated that up to 80 percent of all arms, ammunition and supplies that were supplied to the transnational government of Somalia was diverted to the black market. The firearms ended up in the hands of private individuals, opposition groups and arms traffickers.

(Prices of guns on the black market.)

Source: Patrick Mayoyo, “Arms smuggling rife in Somalia despite UN embargo, claims report,” Africa Review, August 11, 2011.

Between 400,000 to 700,000 illegal guns are traded in the black market in Australia.

Most of the guns were stolen from previous owners.

In 2011, there were 2,675,785 legitimate owners of firearms in Australia.

Source: Christopher Knaus, “ACT black market fed by theft of legal guns,” Canberra Times, August 8, 2011.

In 2005, the average price of an AK-47 sold around the world was $534. The average price of the firearm was $559 in the year 2000, $425 in 1995, and $448 in 1990.

(Click here for additional AK-47 prices and other firearms sold on the black market.)

Source: Phillip Killicoat, “Weaponomics: The Global Market For Assault Rifles,” World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4202, April 2007.

Just across the United States /Mexico border, an AK-47 is sold for $1,200 to $1,600. This price range is in line with previous estimates where AK-47s were reported to be sold on the black market in Mexico at prices $500 higher than the retail price in the U.S.

In Southern Mexico, where there is no supply from U.S. gun stores and the quality of arms from Central America is bad, the price range for an AK-47 is between $2,000 to $4,000.

(Prices of guns bought on the black market.)

Source: Eric L. Olson, “Challenges and Opportunities for the U.S. and Mexico to Disrupt Firearms Trafficking to Mexico,” Written Testimony to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, March 31, 2011 .

Nearly 20 percent of guns seized in Brazil were produced in foreign countries and trafficked into Brazil through the black market.  Authorities identified the ports of Santos and Paranagua, the country’s two largest ports, as the location where the arms are trafficked through.

Brazil has more deaths by guns than any other country in the world.

(Prices of guns sold illegally.)

  Source: Hannah Stone, “Brazil’s new arms-trafficking frontier? The sea,” Christian Science Monitor, July 18, 2011.