World Customs gets illicit firearms database access from INTERPOL

 

LYON, France – INTERPOL has signed an agreement with the World Customs Organization (WCO) granting
the global body access to its database on illicit firearms.

The agreement further strengthens the longstanding cooperation between the two organizations in the fight
against trafficking, organized crime and terrorism, leveraging the global customs mandate of the WCO to help
identify and cut off the flow of illicit weapons.

Under the agreement, the WCO will have real-time access to search the more than 1.4 million records of
illicit firearms contained in the INTERPOL Illicit Arms Records and tracing Management System (iARMS) database,
as well as access to firearms identification reference material via the INTERPOL Firearms Reference Table (IFRT).

The WCO will also be able to submit international trace requests for suspicious firearms recovered during its
customs activities and operations, to help identify when and where a firearm was diverted into illicit use.

If a search made by the WCO triggers a match in the database, a notification will be sent to the INTERPOL
General Secretariat, the WCO and the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in the country which recorded the
weapon in the database.

“The proliferation of illicit firearms presents a threat to global security which police cannot tackle alone. As
guns are trafficked across borders, partners like the WCO provide invaluable support on the ground to intercept
these weapons and keep them out of the hands of dangerous criminal networks,” said INTERPOL Secretary General
Jürgen Stock.

Longstanding collaboration

INTERPOL and the WCO have worked closely to combat all forms of illicit trafficking worldwide for more than
20 years, since first signing a cooperation agreement in 1998.

“Access to INTERPOL’s iARMS will enable the WCO to provide operational support to its members, as the
WCO Information and Intelligence Centre (I2C) will now be able to input search queries in the iARMS database on
behalf of member customs administrations not yet having been granted access.

“This collaboration underpins the strong partnership between the WCO and INTERPOL in the global fight against terrorism and other types of organized crime, for which close national, regional and international customs and police cooperation is crucial,” said Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General.

In recent years the two organizations have collaborated on a number of global and regional operations,
including:

•Operation Trigger III (2017) and IV (2018) – firearms trafficking in West Africa, and the Middle East and
North Africa, respectively;

•Operation Neptune II (2019) – maritime border security operation in Europe and North Africa;

•Operation Pangea XIII (2020) – global operation against pharmaceutical crime;

•Operation Adwempa (2016-2019) – border management operation in West Africa.

As well as working together on the European Union Project for Combating the Illicit Trade in and Proliferation
of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Member States of the League of Arab States, INTERPOL and the WCO are
partners on the Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP), along with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
(UNODC).

The project aims at strengthening law enforcement capacities at international airports across the globe
to profile, detect and intercept drugs, other illicit goods and high-risk passengers in origin, transit and destination
countries.

In addition, the two organizations are also partnering in the Programme Global Shield, an international effort
to monitor the licit flow and illicit trafficking of precursor chemicals and any other materials which could be used
by terrorists and other criminals to manufacture Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).

The iARMS project is funded by the European Union.