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Aguirre, Katherine, Robert Muggah, Jorge A. Restrepo, and Michael Spagat. 2006 ‘Illegal Arms Trafficking and Manufacturing.’ Small Arms Survey 2006: Unfinished Business; Chapter 9, pp. 8-9. Geneva: Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. 1 June

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Illegal Arms Trafficking and Manufacturing

[A]rms smuggling into and out of Colombia has deep historical roots, particularly in the La Guajira peninsula bordering Venezuela and the Caribbean Sea (El Pais, 2004). Highly profitable exports of contraband goods, particularly cocaine, helped give rise to a roaring black market in small arms and light weapons (O Globo, 2005). Moreover, the country's extensive coastline and relatively porous frontiers with five countries, particularly the long tracts of isolated border areas, severely complicate the control of illegal weapons flows…

Official arms seizure reports and media articles suggest that comparatively few weapons used by guerrilla groups originate directly from the stockpiles of the Colombian armed forces. It should be noted, however, that there are no publicly available statistics on state-owned weapons lost or stolen during combat…

[I]t appears that weapons are purchased through a complex web of interactions to avoid directly implicating guerrilla leaders. To minimize the risk of capture or interdiction, consignments are regularly air-dropped or shipped to an agreed safe area, often within a conflict zone where the government exerts only limited control. From there, weapons are shifted to a 'zone of consolidation', and ultimately to the 'rear guard' of a guerrilla front. The Caribbean coast, particularly the Urabá Gulf corridor, is a primary entry point for FARC assault rifles and light machine guns, most of which originate in the Middle East and Eastern Europe and are transshipped via Central America.(28) Pistols and ammunition follow a variety routes, for example through the infamous triple border area of Paraguay, across the Brazilian border, and into Vaupés Department (O Globo, 2005)…

The primary paramilitary smuggling routes for AKM-series assault rifles and various types of machine guns include the Urabá Gulf and the Pacific port of Buenaventura — with most weapons allegedly originating in the United States and Central America…

Colombia's illicit craft firearms industry operates on a fairly large scale, with two types of producers and suppliers. First, there are small-scale manufacturers of non-automatic firearms whose primary clients are petty criminals residing in urban centres. Second, since the mid-1990s, the FARC has ratcheted up production of sub-machine guns, mortars, mortar grenades, and hand grenades…

Sources:

28) For a documented case of smuggling, see the report of the Organization of American States (OAS) on the cache of assault rifles for the paramilitaries that was intercepted in Panama through Nicaragua (OAS, 2003). See also AP (2006).

El Pais. 2004. 'M-19 cambió drogas por armas.' 6 October.
http://elpais-cali.terra.com.co/paisonline/notas/Octubre062004/A206N2.html

O Globo. 2005. 'Traficantes brasileiros se aliam às FARC no Paraguai.' 10 April.

ID: Q9978

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