MOSCOW, February 1 (RIA Novosti) – Russian law enforcement officials arrested a resident of Russia’s republic of North Ossetia suspected of smuggling firearms from the neighboring South Ossetia, the republic’s Interior Ministry said on Friday.
The police were tipped off about the illegal activities of the suspected arms smuggler, whose identity has not been disclosed, in July last year.
“Over six months, police and FSB operatives registered several instances when the suspect illegally sold weapons smuggled from South Ossetia,” the ministry said in a statement.
The suspect’s car was intercepted on Thursday at the Nizhny Zaramag checkpoint on the border with South Ossetia.
“As a result of the operation, police seized 12 5.45-mm and 7.62-mm Kalashnikov assault rifles,” the ministry said, adding that the smuggled weapons were hidden in a false compartment in the suspect’s Lada sedan.
South Ossetia became a major source of illegal arms trafficking across the Russian border after Moscow fought a brief war with Tbilisi over South Ossetian independence in August 2008. Back then, many residents of the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, broke into arms stores and seized weapons to defend themselves during the conflict.