Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Duquet, Nils and Maarten Van Alstein. 2016 ‘Cross-Border Trafficking.’ Guns for Sale: The Belgian Illicit Gun Market in a European Perspective; Chapter 1 (Section 1.3.2), p. 9. Brussels: Flemish Peace Institute. 21 March
1.3.2. Cross-Border Trafficking
The most cited-source for illegal firearms market in Europe is cross-border smuggling. The European single market has significantly facilitated the activities of illegal firearms traders, due to the freedom of movement and the lack of customs controls at the borders within the EU. Once a firearm has been smuggled into the EU, it can reach its European country of destination relatively easily. Firearms trafficking generally takes place under the form of "ant trade": numerous shipments of small quantities of firearms that, over time, result in the accumulation of large numbers of illicitly held firearms. The firearms are often concealed in legitimate loads, or are transported in private cars or buses…
Over the years the source countries have changed: while in the 2000s the smuggling of firearms for the criminal market mainly took place within the borders of the EU,(40) the main source countries for firearms smuggled into the EU today are generally situated in the Western Balkans. Following the armed conflict in the region in the 1990s, a large quantity of firearms and ammunition has remained beyond the control of national and local authorities.
According to Belgian police, the increase in the possession and use of heavy firearms such as Kalashnikovs is a direct consequence of the increased smuggling of this type of weapon from former Yugoslavia after the war ended.(41) The region will likely remain the most important source of trafficked firearms, and especially of the 'heavy firearms'. According to Europol: "The Western Balkans are expected to remain a key source of heavy firearms trafficked into the EU, due to the large illicit stockpiles in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Kosovo region, Montenegro and Serbia".(42)
Other important source countries for firearms that are smuggled into the EU are the Russian Federation and Eastern European countries. Europol recently stated that firearms originating from the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Mali have also been found on the European illicit firearms market, and these countries may emerge as major sources of illegal firearms trafficked to the EU.(43)
Firearms are usually smuggled to Belgium in smaller quantities by road, with couriers travelling in passenger cars or small vans transporting small quantities of firearms. These lots generally consist of several types of firearms and ammunition. Once in the country of destination, the weapons are sold to criminals through a network of intermediaries…(44)
40) Spapens, A.C.M. (2008), De logistiek en aanpak van illegale vuurwapenhandel binnen de EU-landen, Justitiële verkenningen, 34: July (Illegale Wapenhandel), 65.
41) Ze kwamen uit het Oosten: De illegale wapenhandel bloeit, De Standaard, 17 December 2011.
42) Europol (2015), Exploring tomorrow's organised crime, 41.
43) Europol (2015), Exploring tomorrow's organised crime, 41.
44) Wapens komen in kleine leveringen, Knack, 11 August 2010.; Spapens, A.C. & M.Y. Bruinsma (2002), Smokkel van handvuurwapens vanuit voormalige Oostbloklanden naar Nederland.
Tilburg: WODC, IVA Tilburg;
Dutch National Criminal Investigation Department (2008), Nationaal dreigingsbeeld 2008. Georganiseerde criminaliteit, Zoetermeer: Dutch National Police Services Agency;
De Vries, M.S. (2008), De Nederlandse aanpak van illegale vuurwapenhandel, Justitiële verkenningen,
34:July (Illegale Wapenhandel), 76-88