From 24-28 August 2020, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with the Government of Colombia, carried out its first virtual edition of Interdicting Small Arms, Ammunition, Parts and Components (ISAAPC) Course in the region. Due to the COVID pandemic, the Centre restructured and adapted its training to a virtual format to facilitate continued training. As part of this process, the course content was updated and different interactive resources were included to facilitate the understanding and interaction through UNLIREC’s new e-learning platform.

The aim of this five-day course is to support Latin American and Caribbean States efforts to mitigate and prevent the diversion and illicit trafficking of firearms, ammunition, parts, components and explosive through postal shipments, parcels and baggage by providing specialized x-ray identification training.

The course is aimed at X-ray screening operators and support personnel with responsibilities in control and inspection at points of entry, exit and transit as well as other security check points. Thirty-eight (38) screening operators and officials from the Directorate of Customs and Excise of Colombia attended the course.

Through a theoretical and practical methodology, participants received specialized training on technical specifications of small arms, their parts, components, ammunition and explosives as well as on elements related to the interpretation of X-ray images that may suggest the presence of a threat. In addition, participants had access to a training platform developed by the Center for Adaptive Security Research and Applications (CASRA), which contains a repository of images developed by UNLIREC.

This ISAAPC Course has contributed to improving detection capacities and interdiction practices in support of the prevention and combat of illicit trafficking of small arms, ammunition, parts and components in the region. Participants expressed great interest in this training, which strengthens their capacities to efficiently identify firearms and ammunition, but mainly parts and components of firearms (such as rifles), which in recent years are being sent illegally via air cargo and postal shipments.

This training course forms part of the “Combatting Illicit Firearms and Ammunition trafficking in Latin America and the Caribbean” project and its implementation is possible thanks to the financial support of the Government of Germany.