Last week, police officers in Paraguay found that at least 42 battle rifles had been stolen from their armory and replaced with toy replicas. It’s unclear if a flag with the word “BANG!” written on it popped out of the barrels.
ABC Color first reported the discovery last Friday, saying officials were performing an inspection at the headquarters of the Department of Armaments and Munitions of the National Police when they found the toy rifles. More details emerged over the weekend when Paraguay’s Minister of the Interior Juan Ernesto Villamayor addressed the situation calling it, “a very serious criminal act.”
According to NPR, the total number of FN FAL rifles stolen now stands at 44, with an additional 90 small arms that have gone missing. The Brazilian-made rifles were reportedly being held in storage in Capiatá because they were considered obsolete. After authorities noticed “signs of irregularities,” an inspection was carried out and part of the weapons cache had been replaced with what was said to be Airsoft replicas. ABC Color obtained a photo of one of the imposter weapons.
The BBC reports that the inspection was prompted by the appearance of some of the rifles on the black market over a year ago. They reportedly sell for up to $10,000 and the stolen inventory is believed to have been smuggled into Argentina and Brazil. A report from earlier this year found that Paraguay and the U.S. are the two biggest sources of illegal foreign guns in Brazil.
The officer in charge of the facility where the guns were stored first assumed duty in January, and according to ABC Color, he admitted that he did not personally review an inventory list presented to him by subordinates. He has now been relieved of duty.