Using a crime script analysis, this research aims to document how smugglers operate when they traffic arms from the US to foreign countries. Our study is based on an analysis of 66 cases that have been judged by US courts (2008–2017). The criminal activities involved are detailed in a series of distinct scenes, according to Cornish’s theory. Five scripts have been developed, based on the means of transport used by the traffickers: road transport, commercial airlines, postal services, freight transport and crossing the border on foot. Results suggest that most criminals prefer to operate according to an established modus operandi. This commonality suggests that the potential exists for the professionalisation of this criminal activity. Indeed, offenders are likely to maintain it to reduce effort and risk. Complementary sources of information would help to enrich the approach proposed in this study and to address the challenges posed by complex cases.