A federal operation seized tens of thousands of illegal gun silencers smuggled into the United States from China and led to numerous arrests, according to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) report shared on the agency's website.
Operation Silent Night, which was initially launched in 2019, included 42,888 illegally imported silencers and 4,868 firearms being seized, as well as 204 arrests reported as of March 2022.
Additionally, federal authorities have also shut down websites that sold the items and worked with officials in China in an effort to cease the manufacturing of illegal silencers.
Robert Hammer, the special agent in charge of the Seattle field office for Homeland Security Investigations, a division of ICE, referred to Operation Silent Night as "a gateway into other illicit activity," NBC News reports.
Officials said shipments from China are still making their way to the U.S., but the number of foreign silencers has taken a sharp increase due to the federal operation.
Stacey Whitehead, an inspector with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said shipments from China continue to make their way to the U.S., however, the number of foreign silencers have dipped drastically amid the crackdown, NBC News reports.
Authorities are also searching for unlicensed U.S. manufacturers that could possibly replace the Chinese sellers threatened by the operation, as well as 3D-printed silencers.
Silencers are tubes that attach to the barrel of a firearm in order to make the shot quieter and lessen the weapon's kickback when fired.
The items typically cost between $350 and $1,600 when purchased legally in the U.S. and require a lengthy special registration process.