Inside The World of Arms Trafficking: The 2001 Otterloo Incident


In the paper termed “The Mechanics and Beauties of Gunrunning: The Otterloo Incident,” I analyze the 2001 Otterloo Incident, an illegal gunrunning case, in order to provide a clear picture of the global small weapons market and its mechanics. Between 1999 and 2002 two Israeli arms dealers (Shimon Yelinek and Ori Zoller along with their partners) operating companies (GIR S.A. and DIGAL S.A.) respectively in Panama and Guatemala fooled the Nicaraguan government into selling thousands of AK-47s and millions of ammunitions to the Panamanian National Police. The equipment, aboard the Otterloo ship, obviously never reached Panama and was illegally delivered to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. The key elements of this paper are:

  • The essential conditions for the thriving of the illegal arms deal business: supply and demand sides
  • The logistics and patterns of arms trafficking: means of transportation, subterfuges to keep the weapons underground, etc…
  • The key actors: from the brokers to the side players
  • The conscious involvement of governments and law enforcement agencies in this business
  • The implications for arms regulations
  • The importance of analyzing gunrunning through rational and analytical lenses rather than a moralistic framework

Here is the link to download the paper: The Mechanics and Beauties of Gunrunning: The Otterloo Incident

PDF link (if Word does not work): The Mechanics and Beauties of Gunrunning: Otterloo Incident

Link to the Appendices and sources: Appendices and Sources