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Illicit Firearms Trade

NYC Gun Smuggling Operation Hid Guns In Gym

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US court charges Saudi men with firearms trafficking offences in their absence

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US court charges Saudi men with firearms trafficking offences

Prosecutors in the US have charged three men from Saudi Arabia with illegally purchasing firearms parts worth an estimated $100,000 while in America on student visas and attempting to smuggle them back to their home country.

In a five-count indictment returned last week, Hatim Humeed Alsufyani, 36, and 27-year-old Mosab Alzahrani, both of whom previously resided in San Bernardino, California, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to smuggle goods out of America without obtaining the proper export licences.

Both men were also charged with counts of knowingly exporting weapons parts without a licence.

It is understood the pair are currently back in Saudi Arabia.

In a separate indictment, Mohammed Alabdulwahab, 30, who is also said to have lived in Los Angeles at the time the offences were committed, was charged with 15 counts of smuggling and 15 counts of knowingly exporting firearms parts from the US without first having obtained an export licence from the State Department.

Alabdulwahab is also thought to currently be living back in the kingdom.

Prosecutors allege that Alsufyani and Alzahrani plotted to traffic rifle barrels, rifle triggers and other items related to firearms out of the US to their home country in their checked luggage on flights from Los Angeles.

The pair are said to have falsely identified the firearms parts as “shower curtain rods” or “car parts” when passing through customs checks.

It is also alleged that Alabdulwahab got in touch with US-based firearms parts retailers in 2018 in order to buy parts for the purpose of illegally exporting them to Saudi Arabia.

Alsufyani could face a maximum penalty of 65 years behind bars if convicted of all the charges he faces, while Alzahrani could be handed a 25-year maximum jail term.

Alabdulwahab could face a maximum jail term of 10 years for each smuggling count he has been charged with, and 20 years for each violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

The US and Saudi Arabia do not have a formal extradition treaty, meaning the Kingdom does not send its citizens accused of crimes to America to face justice.

Last month, Oregon Live reported that Democratic Senator Ron Wyden had won approval for a new bill that could force the White House to disclose what it knows about the Saudi Arabian government’s alleged role in removing its citizens from the US to escape prosecution.

If it passes into law, the Saudi Fugitives Declassification Act would compel US authorities to declassify all information relating to how the Saudi government may have helped accused criminals leave the country.

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UNODC holds meeting in Vienna on organised firearms trafficking across EU member states

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The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) this week convened a cross-regional meeting of experts intended to address the illegal trafficking of firearms across the European Union.

Held in Vienna as part of UNODC’s Global Firearms Programme (GFP), which was set up to help UN member states respond to the trafficking of firearms and their components by organised criminal networks, the meeting offered delegates an opportunity to review recent data on the trafficking of guns within the EU, and discuss how the problem can be better addressed.

UNODC Organised Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch chief Loide Aryee opened proceedings by highlighting the importance of collecting and sharing data on illicit firearms flows, telling attendees that doing so improves detection of firearms-related crime.

The event was attended by nearly 70 experts in firearms trafficking from law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities from EU nation states and several other countries, a number of whom also identified spontaneous information sharing and international cooperation as major tools that can improve the tracing and disruption of illicit firearm flows.

Bringing the meeting to a close, the Head of the GFP  Simonetta Grassi said: “UNODC, through its Global Firearms Programme, will keep promoting cooperation and the exchange of information and good practices between countries for effective results against firearms trafficking.

“We hope that one approach for this is the organisation of further cross-regional meetings that allow to zoom into one specific region while keeping the global dimension of the phenomenon in mind.”

Separately, a gun smuggler who went on the run from police after he was charged with attempting to traffic guns and ammunition into the UK has been jailed for 14 years.

Marius Supelis from Wisbech was found in possession of the weapons, which had been hidden inside a television, when he was stooped by customs officers in France in June 2014.

He was jailed on Wednesday at Peterborough Crown Court after being returned to the UK following his arrest in Spain last year.

Speaking after sentencing, DC Jolly Herod, from Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Department, said: “Guns and drugs have devastating effects on people’s lives and we will continue the fight to prevent their use and keep our streets free from the serious threat they pose.”

The problems created by the trafficking of illicit firearms within the EU have been brought into sharp focus over recent years following several major terrorist attacks involving automatic and semi-automatic weapons, particularly the Charlie Hebdo and Paris atrocities in 2015.

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Zimbabwean film student who became first person in UK to be convicted of creating 3D-printed guns jailed for three years

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A film student from London has become the first person in Britain to be jailed for making 3D-printed guns.

Zimbabwean national Tendai Muswere, described by his lawyer as a “loner”, has been handed a three-year jail term after pleading guilty to a charge of manufacturing a 3D-printed gun during a trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

Police officers executing a drug warrant at Muswere’s home came across the components required to create 3D-printed guns while conducting a search for cannabis in October 2017.

Returning to Muswere’s flat in February 2018, investigators found further components of 3D-printed firearms.

Analysis of Muswere’s internet search history revealed that he had been viewing videos in which experts explained how to make viable 3D-printed guns capable of firing live ammunition.

Admitting to the manufacture and possession of two 3D-prented firearms back in June, Muswere claimed he made the weapons to be used as props in a film he was making as part of his degree course at London South Bank University.

He told investigators he was not aware that the components he created could be used to build a gun that could fire real bullets, but then failed to provide information about the nature of the film for which he claimed to have manufactured them.

Speaking after sentencing, Metropolitan Police investigating officer Detective Sergeant Jonathan Roberts said: “I hope that today’s sentencing sends a very clear and powerful message that we will prosecute anyone who thinks that they can get away with being in possession of, or manufacturing a firearm, in London.

“Muswere claimed that he was printing the firearms for a ‘dystopian’ university film project but he has not explained why he included the component parts necessary to make a lethal barrelled weapon.

“We know that Muswere was planning to line the printed firearms with steel tubes in order to make a barrel capable of firing.”

While 3D-printed gun technology remains in its relative infancy, campaigners are worried that firearms created using 3D printers could provide criminals and terrorists with weapons that are hard to trace.

In October of last year, researchers at the University at Buffalo in New York announced that they had developed the world’s first accurate method for tracing 3D-printed objects to the device on which they were made, suggesting that their creation could be used to track firearms made using 3D printers.

Discussing the method with Vice News, David Chipman, Senior Policy Adviser at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said: “For this to be useful to law enforcement who would be tracing guns, you’d have to have a record of the unique signature of every 3D printer being sold. We can only match it if we already have a record of it.”

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