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Sunday, March 7th, 2021

INTERPOL, WCO joint operation results in seizures of $460 million in cash, illegal weapons

The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) recently conducted a global counter-smuggling operation that resulted in the seizure of more than $460 million in cash and bearer negotiable instruments (BNIs) and approximately 300 weapons.

The four-week operation, codenamed Chimera, involved 70 countries and resulted in a total of 229 seizures and detentions. The largest confiscation was $450 million retrieved by customs in Toluca, Mexico. The seized cash was destined for conflict zones or linked to individuals from those areas.

Additionally, 349 warning messages were issued in relation to cash and BNIs. In some instances, individuals were found to have declared cash on departure of one country but failed to declare or declared a different amount upon arrival at their destinations.

“This operation has taken millions of dollars and hundreds of weapons out of the hands of organized crime and potentially terrorist groups as well,” INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said. “This was a coordinated and effective response by police and customs to the threats posed by organized crime and terrorism, and clearly shows what can be achieved through close cooperation.”

Chimera centered on express couriers and mail services and focused on illicit trafficking of cash, small arms and light weapons.

The operation now moves into a second phase targeting individuals behind the smuggling.