Thieves replace Paraguay police rifles with toy replicas

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Thieves replace Paraguay police rifles with toy replicas

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Belgian-made FN FAL rifles are widely used around the world

Thieves in Paraguay have stolen 42 powerful rifles from the police armoury.

During an inspection, officers found that the FN FAL battle rifles had been replaced with wooden and plastic replicas.

The inspection had been ordered after the rifles started appearing a year ago on the black market, where they can fetch up to $10,000 (£7,785).

The rifles had been put into storage but were still in working order.

Some of them are thought to have ended up in Argentina while others are believed to have been smuggled to Brazil.

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Neighbouring Brazil has long complained that many of the illegal weapons seized there have been smuggled into the country from Paraguay.

Paraguayan media posted photos of the replicas and called it the "most embarrassing scandal" in the history of the country's police force.

Skip Twitter post by @ABCDigital

Roban 42 fusiles de guerra que estaban resguardados en un cuartel policial y lo reemplazan por réplicas de juguete. https://t.co/FP6xCO3F6n pic.twitter.com/ukoXoUnlDY

— ABC Digital (@ABCDigital) August 25, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @ABCDigital

They had been taken to the armoury in the city of Capiatá as the police force was replacing them with newer models.

When the rifles first started appearing on the black market, the military ordered an investigation. They honed in on the police armoury and a search revealed the toy rifles.

The police officer in charge of the armoury has been replaced but no arrests have so far been made.

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