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Illicit Firearms Trade

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Brits face five years in jail for ordering banned weapons from overseas vendors online, police warn



Brits face five years in jail for ordering banned weapons

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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New Zealand firearms buy-back scheme could yield tens of thousands of weapons after MPs pass new post-Christchurch gun laws



New Zealand firearms buy-back scheme

A firearms buy-back scheme launched by authorities in New Zealand after new gun laws were introduced in the wake of the Christchurch massacre is expected to result in the surrender of tens of thousands of weapons, police have said.

The programme, which is expected to cost the government as much as NZ$300 million ($203 million), has been set up to compensate gun owners for handing over firearms that will soon become illegal to possess after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced sweeping and immediate changes to the country’s weapons laws following the atrocity.

Changes to New Zealand gun laws will make it illegal to own assault rifles and military-style semi-automatic weapons.

The government estimates that the five million people who live in New Zealand possess as many as 1.5 million guns, but said it has no idea how many assault rifles are currently legally held in the country.

It was initially expected that the programme would cost between NZ$100 million and NZ$200 million, but that estimate has recently been revised up.

Addressing a news conference on Thursday, New Zealand Police Deputy Police Commissioner Michael Clement said that while authorities do not know how many soon-to-be banned firearms are in circulation across the country, the number could run into the tens of thousands, or perhaps more.

Urging members of the public to register any firearms that will be prohibited under the new rules online, Clement said that the manner in which the buy-back scheme will work is still being finalised.

“We know we have a big job ahead of us, we also know we are up for the challenge,” he said.

“We’re quickly developing processes to make sure that we can meet that expectation.

New Zealand’s parliament backed the new firearms legislation by a ratio of 119 to 1 on Wednesday, as Ardern told lawmakers they were giving “a voice” to those killed in the Christchurch shootings.

The one MP who voted against the new laws, David Seymour, who is the leader of the libertarian ACT Party, said they were being introduced too soon after the attacks., adding: “It is not an attempt to improve public safety, it is an exercise in political theatre.”

The new laws were tabled after it emerged that alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant was able to buy the weapons he used in his attack legally, modifying his semi-automatic rifles with high-capacity magazines so as they could hold more bullets.

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Interpol-backed crackdown on firearms smuggling in Latin America results in 560 arrests



Interpol-backed crackdown on firearms

Law enforcement agencies across Latin America have arrested 560 people and seized hundreds of guns and other weapons in an Interpol-backed crackdown on illicit firearms.

Eight countries across the region participated in the week-long operation, dubbed Trigger V, which involved specialist officers from the police, customs, immigration and military, as well as ballistics laboratories.

In total, investigators taking part in the effort seized 857 firearms, as well as more than 38,000 bullets, 20 grenades and various police and military uniforms.

The operation, which was coordinated from Interpol’s regional bureau in El Salvador and its headquarters in Lyon, France, is said to have dealt a significant blow to a criminal firearms smuggling network that is said to include members of the notorious MS-13 gang.

Law enforcement agencies from Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama contributed to the effort, which also resulted in the seizure of illegal drugs, stolen vehicles and $162,000 in cash.

These items were confiscated during 42,000 checks that took place at “hotspots” across the region, including at air, sea and land border entry points.

A number of key arrests were made during the regional crackdown, including the detention of an individual known as “Zeus o Mono”, who was the target of an Interpol Blue Notice.

The arrested individual is suspected of leading a transnational arms trafficking ring responsible for supplying weapons to the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Colombia.

A Honduran citizen subject to an Interpol Red Notice for numerous firearms and drugs offences was also arrested during the operation, as were 47 individuals in El Salvador, 18 of whom were said to have links to gangs such as the Barrio18 and MS-13.

Commenting on the success of the operation, Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said the arrests were an important step in dismantling illicit networks and protecting citizens, adding: “The availability and use of illegal guns pose a clear threat to global security, stability and development, whilst also providing a lucrative profit stream for criminals.

“Interpol’s role is to help member countries remove illicit weapons from circulation, but most importantly, dismantle the networks which facilitate ‒ and depend on ‒ their trade.”

Separately, Europol earlier this week announced that police in France have broken up an organised crime gang suspected to have been involved in the smuggling of firearms into the country from the US.

The operation, which took place at the end of last month, resulted in the arrest of seven suspects in France and one in the US, as well as the seizure of 60 handguns, 20 rifles and nine sticks of dynamites.

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