(Lyon) More than 14,000 people have been arrested and more than 8,000 firearms seized in a vast operation coordinated by Interpol in Latin America, the international organization based in Lyon, France announced on Tuesday.

The raid, conducted from March 12 to April 2, also seized 203 tons of cocaine and other narcotics valued at approximately $5.7 billion, as well as 372 tons of drug precursors (chemicals used in manufacture of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, amphetamines), Interpol said in a statement.

In total, authorities in Central and South America made 14,260 arrests and confiscated some 8,263 illicit firearms, as well as 305,000 cartridges, in “the largest firearms operation ever”. coordinated by Interpol,” dubbed Trigger IX, according to the same source.

Some 100,000 pieces of ammunition were recovered in Uruguay, “object of international trafficking by two European nationals, marking the largest seizure of this type ever made in the country”, according to Interpol.

“The fact that an operation targeting illicit firearms has resulted in such massive seizures of drugs is further proof, if necessary, that these crimes are linked”, underlined the secretary general of Interpol Jürgen Stock, quoted in the press release.

Trigger IX further uncovered a range of other crimes, ranging from corruption to terrorist activities, and dismantled 20 organized crime groups in different countries.

The arrests included members of the Balkan Cartel, the powerful Brazilian organized crime network Primeiro Comando da Capital and Mara Salvatrucha, a Salvadoran mafia operating in Central America and the United States, all involved in arms trafficking, according to Interpol.

Eleven victims of human trafficking were freed in Paraguay thanks to this raid.

About 15 countries in the region participated in the operation as well as about 100 law enforcement agencies, such as the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF ), said Interpol.