NATIONAL NEWS: Scores of guns intended for British streets seized by police

Almost 80 guns intended for British streets have been seized in a major police operation.

Wednesday, 5th July 2017, 6:54 am
Updated Thursday, 31st August 2017, 2:34 pm
Some of the 79 guns seized before they could be brought to the UK

They were found in a trailer about to enter the Channel Tunnel from France on Saturday as part of an operation led by the National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Service.

A cache of 79 viable 4mm and 6mm handguns and a quantity of ammunition, all hidden in specially adapted concealments in engine blocks, was found during a search.

The NCA said investigations over a number of days indicated that an importation of firearms was imminent over the weekend.

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Information was shared with Border Force officers based at Coquelles, France, who stopped a vehicle before it entered the Channel Tunnel en-route to the UK.

Polish national Janusz Michek, aged 59, was one of seven occupants of the vehicle arrested at the scene.

Denis Kolencukov, 23, originally from the Czech Republic but living in the UK was arrested as he arrived in Dover from Dunkirk.

Both have been charged with knowingly being concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a prohibition or restriction on a prohibited weapon or ammunition, and conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life or enable another to do so.

They were both remanded in custody

No further action is to be taken against the other six individuals arrested in Coquelles - four women aged 58, 41, 17 and 15 and two men aged 26 and 22, who were all Polish nationals.

Graham Gardner, the NCA's Deputy Director of investigations, said: “This joint operation has resulted in a large number of viable firearms being taken out of circulation before they could reach the UK.

"Whilst we are in the early stages of our investigation, I believe these weapons were intended for criminal use in either London or across the UK and it goes without saying the risk they would have posed to the public.

“Our recent threat assessment highlights that handguns are still commonly favoured by some criminal groups in the UK. They may not be the largest firearm, but they are easily concealable and lethal in the hands of anyone prepared to use them.

“Firearms related crime across the UK poses a significant threat to the public and the NCA are working with partners in the UK and around the world to combat this threat. The involvement of multiple agencies in this operation demonstrates the collective commitment to keeping people safe and maintaining the relative rarity of gun crime in the UK.”