Three charged after gun-parts bust

Criminals continue to try to import firearms, with Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force busting three men who attempted to bypass the Customs barrier with gun components hidden inside a toy motorcycle mailed from the US. Inside the package were 16 earth-coloured plastic frames for compact handguns. They appear to be Glock 26 or similar. Also found were large capacity handgun magazines - 26 box magazines of 30-round capacity and 24 drum magazines of 50-round capacity - which appear to fit Glock handguns.

The operation started on January 9 when ABF officers at the Melbourne International Mail Facility spotted a suspicious parcel containing a child’s plastic sit-on toy motorcycle. An X-ray analysis identified anomalies and on opening the parcel officers found multiple firearm parts hot-glued to the outside of the motorcycle. The AFP said following further investigation the ABF identified another two packages found to contain similarly concealed firearms parts.

Police subsequently raided premises in the Melbourne suburbs of Brunswick and Southbank as well as locations in NSW believed to be associated with the importations. Three men aged 25, 26 and 33 were arrested and charged with a series of offences relating to possessing a traffickable quantity of unregistered firearms as well as trafficking and importing prohibited firearms parts.

During the raids officers seized further firearms parts including 60 gun receivers, 26 magazines of 30-cartridge capacity as well as springs, magazine followers and end caps. Because the three are now before the courts the AFP declined to disclose any further information, such as what type of firearm the 60 receivers would make up.

AFP Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said these seizures were significant and attempts to illegally import firearms parts were always treated seriously. “We do not want unregulated and unchecked items possibly making their way to criminal groups, which then has far-reaching consequences for the safety of the community,” she said in a media statement. “There is now no chance these firearms will end up in the dangerous hands of outlaw criminal motorcycle gangs or other criminals.”

ABF Regional Commander for Victoria, Craig Palmer, said the detection highlighted ABF effectiveness at the border. “ABF officers working in the international mail environment in Melbourne and around the country are highly skilled in targeting suspect consignments and detecting firearms parts, no matter how they’re concealed,” he said.“Our officers are supported by technology and use other detection methodologies at our international mail centres to identify a range of high risk items. In this case these techniques have helped us prevent a significant number of firearms entering the community and potentially falling into the wrong hands.”

Much more remains to be revealed about this case. It surely shows that illicit imports, dismissed by some anti-gun campaigners as a minor source of illegal firearms compared to those stolen from legal owners, remains a significant source of black market guns for criminals willing to pay high prices for unregistered firearms.

That was demonstrated in 2017 when police busted a gang in Sydney which imported 130 Glock handguns from Germany and sold them on the black market. Just a couple of dozen have since been recovered, one from a member of the Comanchero outlaw motorcycle gang.

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