MIAMI (AP) — Two people have been charged in Florida with orchestrating a massive arms smuggling scheme involving thousands of weapons and parts sent to South America, federal officials said Friday.
Homeland Security Investigations officials said at a news conference that authorities seized 5,300 firearms and components, many of them powerful AR-15 rifles. More than two dozen people have been arrested in Argentina, Brazil and the U.S.
Matthew Albence, deputy director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the weapons were mailed in pieces using false labeling from the U.S. to South America and assembled there. The weapons parts were shipped through the U.S. Post Office and other delivery services.
In addition to the rifles and parts, authorities seized 156 handguns, 30,000 rounds of ammunition, 167 explosives and 15 silencers as well as $100,000 in cash.
Anthony Salisbury, chief of Homeland Security Investigations in Miami, said most of the weapons were intended for Brazil.