June 3 (UPI) — Police in Brazil intercepted more than 60 assault rifles that were smuggled into the country in a shipment of pool heaters from the United States.
The shipment from Miami discovered at the Galeao International Airport in Rio De Janeiro on Thursday contained 45 AK-47s, 14 AR-10s and one G3 rifle worth an estimated $1.2 million.
Authorities said four Brazilians were arrested for illegally importing the weapons and a Brazilian citizen in Miami is also being investigated.
Rio State Security Secretary Roberto Sa called the seizure “the biggest in 10 years” for Rio.
Investigations into illegal arms smuggling in Brazil began two years ago after tracing the origin of weapons used to kill a military police officer in Sao Goncalo.
“How many deaths will we be avoiding with this apprehension? In the last 150 days, 250 rifles were seized in Rio de Janeiro. Is it trivial? The police seize one rifle per hour,” Sa said. “We need a national pact to combat the use of firearms. We alone can not do everything.”
Fabricio Oliveira, the head of the Brazilian Bureau of Firearms and Explosives, said the sizable seizure will be helpful in beginning to eliminate the international scheme to buy military firearms.
“This is a serious blow to these criminal organizations, to this international arms dealer,” Oliveira said. “Some details of the investigation are being kept confidential, as the investigations continue. This is only the beginning.”
Police representatives said they plan to use the confiscated rifles for their official activities.