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France arrests dozens in arms trafficking crackdown

Authorities have arrested 45 people across France and in French overseas territories as part of an operation targeting international arms traffickers, police said Monday.

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French authorities have arrested 45 people across France and in French overseas territories as part of an operation targeting international arms traffickers, police said Monday.

Thirty-eight people have so far been placed under formal detention and more arrests are expected, French police said in a statement.

Some 300 officers were involved in the sweep, which targeted military-grade arms, ammunition and weapons parts trafficked into the country from the Balkans and Slovakia since 2009.

The investigation into a possible smuggling ring was launched after military-grade handguns and rifles were seized during an arrest in the Haute-Marne region in February 2012. The inquiry initially implicated a Slovak arms trafficking syndicate, with links later discovered to another smuggling group based in the Balkans.

An influx of military-grade weapons, particularly Kalashnikov assault rifles, has been blamed for a rise in gang-related shootings in the southern port city of Marseille in recent years.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
 

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