US-led international crackdown on weapons smuggling network results in seizure of thousands of firearms
An international crackdown on weapons trafficking led by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has resulted in the seizure of 5,300 firearms and components, 167 explosives and 15 silencers from an international organised crime network.
Operation Patagonia Express saw law enforcement agencies in the US, Brazil and Argentina arrest a total of 25 suspects after executing 53 search warrants across the three countries.
The probe that led to the breakup of the gang behind the conspiracy was launched when investigators from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit in Miami learned that the network had been illegally using the US Postal Service to export weapon parts and ammunition regulated by the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations without the proper State Department licences.
Over the course of the operation, several HSI offices and law enforcement authorities in Argentina and Brazil carried out a number of raids, during which officers recovered significant quantities of firearms, firearms parts and more than $100,000 in cash.
Most of the weapons seized during the operation had been smuggled out of South Florida and were confiscated in Argentina in what has been described as that country’s largest illegal firearms haul in its history.
Matthew Albence, Deputy Director of ICE, is quoted by the Miami Herald as saying: “With this partnership, we prevented the illicit sale and proliferation of a significant cache of weapons by keeping them out of the hands of criminals and transnational criminal organizations operating in Argentina and Brazil.”
Held in cooperation with the Caribbean Community (Caricom)’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (Impacs), the courses were intended to boost the ability of member nations to address issues related to gun crime more effectively, and improve information sharing and best practice with a view to better combatting cross-border firearms smuggling.
The two training events, which took place last week, involved more than 60 law enforcement agents being provided with advanced training on key Interpol global policing capabilities, including its Illicit Arms Records and Tracing Management System (iARMS), Interpol Ballistic Information Network (IBIN) and the Interpol Firearms Reference Table (IFRT).
Attendees of the two courses were also provided with an in-depth understanding of the Interpol firearms programme, its firearms recovery protocol, IBIN search protocol, and interview techniques for investigating firearms trafficking.
In a statement, Interpol said: “With firearms used in more than 70% of Caribbean murders, [this training is] aimed to strengthen the region’s ability to tackle transnational firearms trafficking.”
Film student becomes first person in UK to be convicted of creating 3D-printed guns
A 26-year-old film student from London has become the first person in Britain to be convicted of making 3D-printed guns.
In what is believed to be a legal first, Zimbabwean national Tendai Muswere yesterday pleaded guilty to a charge of manufacturing a firearm, namely a 3D-printed gun, during a trial at Southwark Crown Court.
The components required to build 3D-printed guns were discovered in Muswere’s home when police executed a drug warrant in search of cannabis in October 2017.
Muswere admitted the manufacture and possession of two firearms after saying he had 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.
After first claiming he was unaware that the weapons he had created were capable of firing lethal shots, Muswere later refused to provide investigators with information about the precise nature of the university project for which he claimed the guns were built.
A police search of his electronic devices revealed that Muswere had viewed online videos demonstrating how to create 3D-printed guns capable of firing live ammunition.
He is due to be sentenced on 9 August.
Speaking after Muswere entered his guilty plea, Metropolitan Police Acting Detective Sergeant Jonathan Roberts commented: “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 barreled weapon.
“We know that Muswere was planning to line the printed firearms with steel tubes in order to make a barrel capable of firing.
“This conviction, which I believe is the first of its kind relating to the use of a 3D printer to produce a firearm, has prevented a viable gun from getting into the hand of criminals and is an excellent example of great partnership working between detectives, neighbourhood police and our forensic colleagues.”
While templates for 3D-printed guns available for download online are not yet sophisticated enough to create reliable weapons, the firearms they can be used to make can still prove deadly.
It is feared that as technology advances, 3D-printed weapons constructed from plastic could become increasingly viable, raising concerns that they could become useful assets for terrorist groups and organised criminals.
Last month, Wired reported that a growing network of US pro-gun activists has been mobilising online to anonymously distribute blueprints for 3D-printed weapons.
Brits face five years in jail for ordering banned weapons from overseas vendors online, police warn
A UK police force has warned online shoppers they could face as many as five years behind bars if they “naively” use the internet to buy banned imitation firearms, stun guns or other types of illegal offensive weapons.
In a statement issued after its officers recorded a marked uptick in the number of packages containing banned weapons being sent to addresses in the north east of England, Northumbria Police said ignorance is no defence for those caught purchasing weapons online that are illegal to possess in the UK.
The force said that over the past year alone, UK Border Force officers have intercepted 219 parcels suspected of containing banned weapons addressed to people living in the region, the vast majority of which had been sent from sellers based in overseas locations.
Twenty-one of these packages were found to contain Tasers, possession of which is banned under UK law, and can result in a jail sentence of up to five years.
Officers from Northumbria Police have been working alongside Border Force officials to identify individuals who ordered the weapons, and have carried out a series of raids that resulted in a number of arrests.
After being interviewed by police, some of those detained are now facing court action, which could result in them being imprisoned.
Reminding members of the public that it is illegal to buy, sell or import banned offensive weapons into Britain, Detective Inspector John Connolly, from Northumbria Police’s Crime Department, said: “The Force takes a strong stance against any individuals who buy, sell or import offensive weapons, it is an offence which is punishable by five years in jail so do not be fooled into thinking that just because an item is for sale online that it is legal, or that it will not be seized by border force officials.
“Do not be naïve, ignorance is not a defence and the Force and the courts will not go easy on you just because you didn’t realise what you’d bought was illegal.”
While the UK has some of the strictest offensive weapons laws in the world, people living in the country are able to order guns, Tasers and other illicit items from other countries in which they are legal, and arrange for them to be sent to Britain through the postal system.
At the end of 2015, an investigation conducted by the Guardian revealed that third party sellers on Amazon based overseas were openly offering weapons that are banned in Britain to UK buyers.
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9 February 2018
9 February 2018
8 February 2018
28 November 2017
28 November 2017
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