SWEETWATER, FLA. (WSVN) - Law enforcement officials in the U.S. banded with international officials to complete a massive seizure of illegal weapons.
Homeland Security Investigations Miami launched the investigation in 2018 after noticing a South Florida-based organization allegedly smuggling weapon parts and accessories from the U.S. into Argentina and Brazil.
“This organization smuggled enough parts to create thousands of fully functional weapons into the region,” said HSI Miami Special Agent Anthony Salisbury.
After 53 search warrants were executed and 25 people put behind bars, authorities thanked each other on Friday morning for their hard work.
“Today, if we want to tackle those international organizations, we have to work together,” said Argentina National Gendarmerie Commandant Martin Myslicki.
With the help from authorities in Argentina and Brazil, 5,300 guns and gun parts were confiscated and 167 explosives were seized.
“Once the weapon components were successfully trafficked across our borders, this transnational criminal organization would sell them the components and the complete weapons and send them to criminal organizations in Brazil and Argentina,” said Salisbury.
HSI said the people responsible used the U.S. Postal Service to illegally export the gun parts and ammo.
“This HSI-led investigation, which resulted in the largest weapons seizure in Argentine history, would not have occurred without great partnerships that we enjoy every day,” said Salisbury.
“The results from operation Patagonia Express will increase public safety and strengthen national security among and between each of the partner countries involved in this complex international organization,” said Immigration Customs Enforcement Deputy Direction Matthew T. Albence.
Law enforcement officials in Argentina are still counting parts seized, and HSI in Miami continues to follow leads.
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