In operation led by Romania and Bulgaria, 22 firearms traffickers arrested

In an operation led by Romania and Bulgaria, law enforcement from a total of 31 countries targeted individuals suspected of purchasing weapons from firearms traffickers, with 22 arrests, European police cooperation agency Europol said on April 3.

The operation involved 143 house searches, and 129 firearms, 1492 unconverted and converted alarm and signal weapons, 24 735 rounds of unconverted, converted, and live ammunition, and six hand grenades, 276 kilos of dynamite, 299 detonators, and over 21kg of gun powder were seized, Europol said.

The countries involved in the coordinated action were Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Europol said that as the procurement of illegal firearms has become increasingly difficult and expensive, individuals and organised crime often resort to converted alarm and signal weapons.

These blank-firing pistols have become a weapon of choice for criminals, as certain models have proved to be easily converted to discharge live ammunition.

Most of the seized alarm and signal weapons were models produced in Türkiye before a change in national legislation related to their production.

These weapons had been imported into the EU and legally offered for sale in Bulgaria and other member states.

Once sold however, they were often trafficked across borders and converted into lethal weapons in other countries within or outside the EU.

This conversion process involves modifying the weapons to make them capable of firing live ammunition, which is illegal. Once converted, the weapons are distributed via illicit channels, contributing to the proliferation of illegal firearms.

This operation, known as Conversus, was led by the Romanian National Police (Poliția Română) in the framework of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT).

It culminated in an action week coordinated by Europol between February 20 and 24, involving law enforcement from the 31 countries, alongside Eurojust and the European Commission, Europol said.

(Photo: Nelson Syozi/

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