Arms Trafficking

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  1. Illicit Gun Trafficking Value:$1 Billion

Arms Trafficking

According to a study by the Small Arms Survey, there are an estimated 10 million firearms and guns circulating in the hands of civilians in Thailand.

The price of buy a gun in Thailand costs about $2,600 on the black market, according to previous reports.

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

Source:  Charlie Campbell, “If There’s Going to Be a Thai Civil War, Isaan Will Be Its Front Line,” Time, July 2, 2014.

In 2013, security officials in Peru reported that 1,767 firearms were reported to be stolen or lost during the year. Most of the guns are stolen from private owners or government security forces.

Security experts believe that most of these guns end up for sale on the black market.

(More arms trafficking statistics.)

Source:  Mimi Yagoub, “Arms Theft from Peru Army Supplies Points to Official Complicity,” InSight Crime, April 3, 2014.

According to research organization Demoskopika in Italy, the mafia syndicate ‘Ndrangheta collected $73 Billion (€53 Billion) in revenue in 2013.

The various revenue streams for the syndicate is as follows:

Intelligence from criminal justice programs state that the ‘Ndragheta has around 400 key operatives working on its behalf in 30 countries. When including all people who conduct business on behalf of the group, then the number of people working for ‘Ndragheta is estimated to be as high as 60,000.

Source:  AFP, “‘Ndrangheta mafia ‘made more last year than McDonald’s and Deutsche Bank’,” Guardian, March 26, 2014.


In a report released by the Attorney General of the US State of California, researchers stated that organized crime groups were committing money laundering, cyber crimes, human trafficking, and drugs and arms trafficking through the border between San Diego and Mexico.

According to the report, approximately 70 percent of all the methamphetamine that is shipped to the United States passed through San Diego.

(How much does meth cost?)

Between 2010 and 2012, at least 1,300 people were identified by security officials as being trafficked through San Diego. An up to 250,000 weapons are smuggled across the border between the two countries each year.

(Cost of an AK-47 and guns on the black market.)

Source:  Roxana Popescu, “State focusing on cross-border trafficking and financial crime,” UT San Diego, March 18, 2014.

There are an estimated 1.8 million guns circulating in Honduras. Out of the total number of guns, 600,000, or one-third, are legally registered., according to media in Honduras.

80 percent of all crimes in Honduras is committed with an unregistered gun.

The areas where the highest number of illegal guns are circulating is reportedly in Cortes, Atlantida, Colon, Copan, and Francisco Morazan, according to Insight Crime.

Back in 2011, there were an estimated 850,000 total guns in Honduras, with only 258,000 legally registered.

(Price to buy a gun on the black market.)

Source:  Michael Lohmuller, “Insecurity Fuels Honduras Illegal Gun Ownership of Over 1 Mn,” Insight Crime, February 13, 2014.

A review of arms trafficking convictions and arms embargo violations conducted by Reuters found that the median jail sentence for an arms trafficker convicted in the United States was 21 months. Reuters reviewed 185 arms trafficking convictions that took place between 2005 and 2013.

In comparison, the average sentence for a convicted bank robber is over 5 years.

The review found that that there is a difference in the type of punishment handed out between companies that violated arms embargoes versus individuals. Generally, companies who violate arms embargoes typically pay fines as high as millions of dollars. When it was an individual who sold the arms, the person is generally criminally prosecuted and faces jail time.

(Price of firearms on the black market.)

Source:  Reuters, “Arms smugglers get lighter sentences than bank robbers,” Yahoo News, December 18, 2013.

Government security agencies in Jordan seized 300 percent more weapons and firearms on its border with Syria in 2013 when compared to 2012.

900 weapons, 24 vehicles, and 6 million illegal drug pills were seized while attempting to be smuggled into Jordan.

Along with the black  market items, nearly 1,600 people were caught attempting to illegally enter Jordan from Syria in 2013.

(See the prices of guns on the black market.)

Source:  IANS, “Smuggling of weapons rises sharply at Jordan borders,” Yahoo News India, December 6, 2013.

Latest figures from criminal justice programs regarding the illegal arms trade in Brazil estimate that there are between 16 to 17 million firearms in circulation in the country.

Out of the total number of firearms, 5.4 million guns are legally licensed to citizens, 2.2 million are held by security forces, and 9.5 million guns are illegally trafficked and held.

Previously, it was reported that 7.6 million guns in Brazil were illegally held.

There are around 35,000 annual firearm homicides that take place in Brazil each year. Intelligence officials state that the vast majority of these killings are done by pistols and handguns that were illegally trafficked and bought in Brazil.

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

Source (PDF): Robert Muggha and Gustavo Diniz, “Securing the border: Brazil’s “South America First” Approach to Transnational Organized Crime,” Igarape Institute, Strategic Paper 5, October 2013, page 6-7.

Security officials in Brazil report that there are 15 million weapons and firearms in circulation within the country. Roughly half,  or 7.6 million guns, are illegally held.

In 2011, the murder rate in Brazil was 27.4 murders per 100,000 residents. The rate was 134 percent higher than the 11.7 per 100,000 in 1980.

1.2 million people were murdered in the country between 1980 and 2011. Nearly 39 percent  of those murdered was between the ages of 14 to 24.

(More arms trafficking statistics.)

Source:  Jeremy Armstrong and Ben Rossington, “The dark side of World Cup hosts Brazil: Drug cartels, murders and civil unrest,” Daily Mirror, October 17, 2013.

According to an investigation by NBC News,  supplies from the United States military are being sold in street markets in Kabul, Afghanistan. Along with whey protein powder, Oakley sunglasses and lemon-scented Pledge, hardware from US security forces are openly sold.

Based on the report, high-tech night vision goggles were being sold for $1,500. Firearm scopes are sold in the stalls for $200, and U.S. military issued infrared sights sell for $250.

Military uniforms of the Afghan National Army are also sold at these stalls. For a national army uniform, a customer would have to pay $50. For the entire uniform including boots and badges, a customer would pay $125.

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

Security officials with the United States Defense Department are concerned that these uniforms and supplies allow insurgents to gain access to US bases and to commit insider attacks.

Source:  Kiko Itasaka, “In Afghanistan, insider attacks begin with a trip to the market,” NBC News, October 6, 2013.