At least 61 firearms have been seized and ten people arrested in a national operation targeting customers who had purchased prohibited blank-firing weapons online.
The operation, which focused around a day of action on Wednesday 7 November, was coordinated by the National Crime Agency and involved 25 police forces and ROCUs throughout the UK.
The ten people arrested were previously identified by NCA investigators as having bought Flobert or blank-firing weapons online from sellers in eastern Europe.
Flobert guns are lethal in their original state and many of the blank-firers purchased were readily convertible to chamber live ammunition.
Both are illegal to possess in the UK, but are freely available in countries across eastern Europe and can be purchased online for less than £100.
Of those arrested, four people have now been charged with various firearms offences and remanded in custody.
Among those is Nathan Hughes, 41, from Cornwall, charged with three offences after Devon & Cornwall Police officers seized three firearms and a sub machine gun that he had dismantled and buried in various locations in his garden.
His charges included the armed robbery of an off license in Redruth.
Robert Lockhart, and his partner, Carol Stirling, both 49 from Appin, were arrested by the NCA and Police Scotland’s Organised Crime Partnership after a number of firearms and weapons were seized from their home. They were each charged with seven firearms offences.
Cambridgeshire Police arrested 26 year old Calvin Jackson at his home in Peterborough. He was charged with six offences following the seizure of seven handguns, ammunition and class A and B drugs.
NCA officers detained a 40 year old man at Birmingham Airport after he landed on a flight from Jamaica. Officers searching the man’s car which he had parked at the airport recovered a machete and CS gas canister.
A search of his home resulted in the seizure of five firearms, eight further CS gas canisters, three stun guns, ammunition, another machete and a baton. He was released under investigation.
In total, officers recovered 61 firearms, 1000 rounds of ammunition, two crossbows, £2000 in cash, eight Rolex watches and a kilo of cannabis as part of the crackdown.
Simon Brough, Firearms Threat Lead at the NCA, said: “This operation highlights just how important it is for us to tackle the importation of illegal firearms into the UK. The mere availability of these firearms creates a range of significant risks to the public.
“Officers have seized 61 firearms some buried in the gardens of those arrested. That’s 61 weapons, capable of ending lives.
“Handguns are the most commonly used criminal firearm in the UK. We know they are strongly linked to drug supply and are used by criminal gangs to facilitate their illegal activity, so these types of operations are a key part of our work to reduce serious violence and protect the public.
“The level of gun crime in the UK is one of the lowest in the world and strict UK legislation means it’s harder for criminals to access illegal weapons here.
“But we must continue to identify the supply routes by which illegal firearms enter the UK and collaborate with police forces and international law enforcement agencies to disrupt the criminals gangs using them.”