Ireland took part in an EU-wide operation resulting in the seizure of more than 300 weapons, including six firearms and 13 firearm parts.
The initiative focused on the trafficking of firearms into and within the EU using the postal system and courier services.
In addition to firearms, officers also recovered ammunition as well as an array of other weapons, including Tasers and knives.
Some 26 countries were involved in the operation, which was co-ordinated by Europol and the European Commission.
The operation, which was conducted on November 16-20, involved a targeted focus on suspect parcels based on intelligence, including purchases made on the dark net or hidden web.
The operation involved:
- 42,124 parcels checked.
- 416 officers.
- Six firearms, 13 firearms parts, and 600 pieces of ammunition seized.
- Seizure of 297 other weapons (knives, pepper-spray, Tasers).
Europol said in a statement: “Over 42,000 parcels were checked and hundreds of weapons seized as part as a joint operation targeting the trafficking of firearms to and within the EU through post and courier services.”
It said Operation Armstrong VII involved police and customs authorities from 26 countries and the European Commission DG Taxation and Customs Union (TAXUD), the DG Migration and Home Affairs, and the Customs Co-operation Working Party.
“During the action week, police and customs authorities in the participating countries carried out enhanced controls of suspicious parcels and postal shipments,” the statement said.
“This operational phase was preceded by an intelligence phase in which Europol and DG TAXUD developed risks indicators, including those relating to purchases via the dark web in order to increase the success rates of parcel controls during the action week.”
In addition to 19 EU states and the UK, the operation also included the US, Switzerland, Norway, Albania, and North Macedonia.
Europol said differences in legislations were being exploited by criminals, whereby firearms or firearms components restricted in one country could be easily ordered from another through the internet.
In addition, firearms are frequently traded on online platforms, including dark web marketplaces.
The agency said this development has resulted in a significant increase in the use of parcel and postal services to traffic firearms and firearm components.