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‘I’ve used this gun 10 times’: More firearms seized than ever before

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“I’ve used this 10 times,” says Sam (not his real name) as he casually brandishes a revolver.

The most chilling part is perhaps not seeing the gun, but instead the relaxed manner in which he admits so many acts of using a weapon, which at best is designed to scare – and at worst, to kill.

Sam, a drug smuggler, boasts to Sky News how “easy” it is to get weapons into Britain from Europe.

And this is a claim backed up by fact – according to the National Crime Agency (NCA) there are more guns in the hands of UK criminals than ever before.

Figures obtained by Sky News show the number of firearms seized by the police agency have quadrupled in the last three years.

The amount of fierarms seized jumped from 168 to 425 in one year
Image:The amount of fierarms seized jumped from 168 to 425 in one year
Hundreds of weapons like these have been taken of Britain's streets in the last 10 months. Pic: National Crime Agency
Image:Hundreds of firearms have been taken of Britain’s streets in the last 10 months. Pic: National Crime Agency

Sam claims to import weapons from Belgium, where he has contacts from his time as a refugee after arriving in the country when he was forced to flee his home state.

He then gets the guns moved through France and then to the UK by concealing them in a lorry.

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Gun
Image:Sam claims he has used his weapon 10 times

“Someone goes to Belgium, they have too many guns there,” says Sam in a thick Middle Eastern accent.

Sam says he goes to France and collects the guns from people in the migrant camps in Calais and then finds a lorry.

“Someone will hide the gun in the lorry and put a tracker on it that gives you the postcode and everything,” he explains.

He says sometimes the lorry drivers are aware, but often they are not.

“We have the number plate. Then somebody this side picks it up.

“I have links. I might go and collect five or 10 guns. There are lots of guns.”

Sam tells Sky News he can buy guns for €600 (£504) and sells them for four times the price in England – guns sell for much more in the UK than other countries in Europe.

Sam says sometimes he does more than handle the guns and in the past has been hired by drug dealing gangs as an enforcer.

Gun
Image:Sam told Sky News it is ‘easy’ to bring firearms into the UK

He says social media is how he is given his target.

He explains: “You go to your phone, click on Facebook messenger. They show you the picture, the address and everything.

“They might say ‘he has a car like this, here’s the number plate, the colour red’.

“A magnet tracker is put under the target’s car.

“They go, they are connected to my phone. So, when they drive. I follow them.”

Sam’s business is in demand because he deals in so-called “clean” guns – weapons which have never been used before.

These are proving popular with the criminal underworld because in recent years forensic teams have been successful in linking single weapons to multiple shootings.

Last year, a gun known to police as “Link Series 4”, was seized after being used in 19 shootings across England and Scotland in just seven years.

The UK's most prolific gun is off the streets - this is how police did it

The UK’s most prolific gun is off the streets – this is how police did it

In total, 15 people were sentenced as part of the operation.

The National Crime Agency says although guns are sometimes posted from the US, the European route that Sam uses is becoming more common – originating in Eastern Europe.

NCA Director of Investigations, Nikki Holland, says: “It is legal to sell many of these firearms in Europe, and criminals can buy those firearms perfectly legally and they will bring them into the UK.”

But there have been a number of recent significant seizures on the route that Sam uses.

Officers have seized rifles as well as handguns. Pic: National Crime Agency
Image:Officers have seized rifles as well as handguns. Pic: National Crime Agency

In August last year, Robert Keogh, an Irish national, was stopped in Dover and found to have 60 guns concealed in his car bumper and side-panels.

The 37-year-old was jailed for nine years.

Last year, Stephen Spires, 37, was convicted as part of a gang that attempted to import 95 guns into the UK from Europe.

Spires was found guilty of working with Denis Kulencukov, 26, and Michael Nicholls, 28, who had concealed handguns and thousands of rounds of ammunition in specially adapted concealments in engine blocks on the trailer of a van which was en-route to the UK from France.

Steven Spires tried to bring 95 guns into the UK
Image:Steven Spires tried to bring 95 guns into the UK

The driver, a Polish courier, had collected the engines at a petrol station in Poland, the previous day, unaware of their lethal contents.

Spires is due to be sentenced next month.

The NCA is lobbying for greater gun controls in Europe after noting an alarming increase in firearms on our streets.

In 2017/18 the agency confiscated 104 guns. That rose to 168 in 2018/19.

But, in the last ten months alone, it has already seized 425 guns.

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