Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that it confiscated 167 explosive/ordinances in an international operation to stop illegal weapons from entering the United States.
“The international operation resulted in a total of 25 arrests and 53 search warrants executed in three countries. Over the course of the operation, law enforcement seized 5,300 firearms and components, 167 explosives/ordinances and 15 silencers from the transnational criminal organization (TCO),” according to an ICE press release.
The investigation found that the TCO was using the U.S. Postal Service to move weapons and explosives parts from Argentina and Brazil into the United States.
According to multiple reports, Brazil has seen a sharp rise in Islamic extremism beginning in 2016, when the country held the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Before the event began, the country arrested suspected 12 pro-ISIS operatives who were planning to carry out attacks during the Olympics. All of the suspects were Brazilian nationals who had become radicalized.
The Counter Extremism Project said:
Terrorist groups have established extensive smuggling networks in the Tri-Border Area (TBA) that straddles the borders of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. Hezbollah operatives in the TBA have reportedly generated significant revenue from criminal enterprises in the region, which has been used to finance the activities of their counterparts in Lebanon. Brazilian criminal organizations are believed to assist Hezbollah with smuggling weapons into the country and with the attainment of explosives.
The Brazilian government has successfully thwarted suspected terrorist attacks and disrupted terrorist finance rings as well as document forgery networks. In September 2015, Brazil’s federal police arrested members of a money laundering group suspected of providing financial support to ISIS. In December 2015, Rio’s civil police uncovered a document fraud network that had provided 70 authentic Brazilian birth certificates to Syrian nationals, 20 of whom managed to secure Brazilian passports.
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