Procurement: Gunrunner Heaven


December 20, 2009: As Colombia has turned the tide on drug gangs and leftist rebels in the last decade, they have collected thousands of weapons used by the enemy. Serial numbers were checked, to find out where all these weapons (nearly 100,000 so far) came from. While 17 percent of the weapons came from the United States, these were mostly pistols, shotguns and rifles. The assault rifles (RPGs, mortar shells, grenades) mostly came from Eastern Europe. Out of all weapons captured, 18 percent came from Bulgaria and 13 percent from Russia. Almost all the weapons from these countries were assault rifles, mostly AK-47s.

The drug gangs and anti-leftist militias bought more of their weapons from the United States, but everyone got most of their arms from gunrunners based in Eastern Europe. That was largely a result of the end of the Cold War. The former communist countries found themselves with millions of AK-47s and light machine-guns (and many similar weapons) that they no longer needed. Communist countries were police states with very large armies and police forces. Most of these personnel were armed with AK-47s, although the majority of the troops were reservists. So their weapons spent most of the time locked up in armories. Since the 1990s, these armories were either looted (as in Albania and Iraq), or had their contents sold off, by corrupt officials, in illegal arms deals. China still manufactures a lot of AK-47s, and is willing to sell them to shady dealers, as are some manufacturers in places like Bulgaria. The AK-47s flooded Africa, Asia South American and the Middle East in the last fifteen years, making them very cheap (less than $100 in some cases).

 The major gunrunners were known, but managed to find sanctuary in Eastern Europe and Russia. Another major source of such weapons are corrupt officials, who sell off weapons to anyone. Such corrupt officials also sell older weapons, instead of following orders and destroying them. The gunrunners found they could get some of the best prices in Colombia, where the cocaine trade provided more cash than found in their other markets.

Flash enough money, and they will come.


Article Archive

Procurement: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close