This is how guns end up in the hands of Liverpool's most vicious criminals

handgun

How weapons that cause terror and tragedy arrive on the streets of Merseyside

Guns cause terror and tragedy on the streets of Merseyside.

This year has seen fatal shootings in Netherton,Wavertree,Belle Vale and near Rainhill , while dozens of men have been taken to hospital with gunshot injuries and families left in fear after homes were targeted.

But how do these guns end up in the hands of thugs with such a reckless attitude towards life?

We look at the firearms used on our streets - and how they typically enter Liverpool's underworld.

EUROPEAN "TRANSIT" COUNTRIES

One of the main routes for firearms entering the UK begins in Europe.

Guns - Particularly handguns - are legally produced on the continental mainland by companies such as the Austrian firm Glock.

Converted and decommissioned firearms can also be bought by gangs in Eastern Europe, who then oversee the reactivation of the guns.

From there, they are smuggled to the UK, typically travelling overland to the Netherlands,  a Known 'transit' country for guns and drugs making their way to the UK.

A Dutch gang may then organise the sale of the weapon to a British criminal outfit.

Once bought by a British buyer, the customer would arrange for the gun to be smuggled into the country.

This can take place via several routes, most commonly through being hidden in the cargo of container ships making their way across the Channel to British ports, including Liverpool.

Another option is for guns to be hidden in vehicles - often in secret compartments built into cars, vans and lorries - and driven in via the Channel Tunnel.

They will then be transported up to Merseyside  direct or sold to local gangs on the British criminal market.

Guns found - and used - on the streets of Liverpool have included weapons thought to have entered the criminal market in Slovakia.

Last year a spate in shootings was linked to an influx of pistols into the North West underworld.

The  acoustic expanding Glocks were a recurring feature in shootings in the region for around ten months across 2016 and 2017.

The first shootings linked to such weapons began around September 2016, with one even linked to the February 2017 murder of  Aaron Lewis in Wavertree.

The lethal weapons were thought to have been smuggled into the UK from Slovakia as decommissioned firearms.

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Sunday, 16 December 2018

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