Amid fast-escalating nightmarish narco-violence in Brazil comes disconcerting word that police in Rio de Janeiro seized 60 assault rifles hidden in a shipment of swimming-pool heating equipment that had just arrived on a flight from Miami. Pulse News Agencyreported June 2 that the AK-47s and AR-10s were discovered in the cargo terminal of Rio's international airport. Photos of the haul showed weapons in the foam packaging they were flown in.
Rio's narco-gangs are obviously gearing up for a real war for control of the favelas (informal slum districts) where they operate. Last month, 32 assault rifles were seized when police responded to a clash between rival narco-factions in Cidade Alta favela. Shootings of gang rivals, police or by-standers are a nearl-daily occurrence in Rio, where violent crime has soared since the end of last year's Olympic Games.
Yet more evidence that the free availability of guns in the United States is fueling the horrific narco-wars in Latin America—first in Mexico, now in Brazil. Of course, we all get the problems with prohibitionist solutions—not that all the logic on drug prohibition necessarily applies to guns. And the US government (wittingly or not) has contributed its fair share of weapons through such capers as the notorious Operation Fast and Furious and others worse still. So there are obvious problems with looking to the government for a solution. There is no easy answer. But we up in Gringolandia have got to acknowlegde there is a problem here.