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December 2014


November 2016



FIRE. Fighting illicit firearms trafficking routes and actors at european level

Project FIRE analyses the illicit trafficking in firearms (ITF) in the 28 European Member States and provides best practices and recommendations to reduce and prevent the crime.

Project FIRE has two objectives:
At the first to assess the availability of data and information on ITF in the 28 EU MS and identify which of these data can be collected by future EU policy initiatives. Data include statistics on turnover and size of illicit market, seizures of illicit firearms, crime and criminal justice statistics related to this crime and gun enabled crimes, information from the web (newspaper articles, inputs from social networks, monitoring of deep web), and case studies (LEAs investigations).

The second objectives is to analyse the ITF in the 28 EU MS using the available data. The research provides information on:

  • The main routes of ITF from, to and within Europe;
  • The main exchange markets for ITF;
  • The actors involved in the crime;
  • The loopholes in the EU regulatory framework that may produce criminal opportunities or a displacement effect towards ITF.

The project will serve as a support tool for law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and prosecutors. It will provide them with:

  • A review of the information already available on ITF;
  • An indication of what could be collected by future EU policy initiatives;
  • A comprehensive analysis of ITF routes, exchange markets and actors at European level, including an innovative analysis of the web as an exchange platform;
  • A crime proofing analysis of the EU regulatory framework with the identification of the vulnerabilities of the EU regulation to ITF;
  • A range of best practices and recommendations to reduce and prevent ITF.

The Project FIRE collects and harmonizes data and addresses the problem of data availability within the EU MS; the integration and harmonization of data is crucial to compare the results and to improve the prevention strategies of law enforcement and existing policies, the exchange of information and operational cooperation, both at the national and international level.

In order to collect and harmonise data and information on ITF in the most comprehensive way possible, Project FIRE adopts a multiple methodological approach using a variety of sources.
These data and information are collected from open sources and university libraries, but also through interviews with experts and direct contacts with EU LEAs, judicial agencies, customs, and national and regional regulatory bodies.

In order to understand the ITF in the 28 EU MS, all the data and information are analysed using a variety of methodologies. Project FIRE develops quantitative and statistical analysis, spatial analysis, content analysis of open sources and information from the web, qualitative analysis of case studies, regulatory and crime proofing analysis of the regulation.

Project FIRE leads to a crucial improvement in terms of knowledge about the ITF. It identifies best practices and recommendations that could be adopted at EU level to reduce and prevent ITF. The project will provide tools for use by EU police officers and judicial authorities to gain better understanding of ITF and thus tackle the crime more effectively. They enable EU policy makers to devise regulations more effective in preventing ITF and the legal firearm industry to devise more effective strategies to reduce the illegal use of the legal firearms.

Project FIRE represents a platform for the exchange of data and information on ITF among EU LEAs, judicial authorities and other investigative agencies. It constitutes also a European forum, complementary to the Firearms Expert Group and the European Firearms Experts, in which to implement cooperation and coordination among all actors active in the field.


Savona, E. U., & Mancuso, M. (Eds.). (2017). Fighting Illicit Firearms Trafficking Routes and Actors at European Level - Final Report of Project FIRE. Transcrime – Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore.

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