Spanish Police Seize HUGE Number of Illegal Firearms from Traffickers in Northern Spain

The Spanish National Police Corps (Cuerpo Nacional de Policía, or CNP) have captured a huge number of weapons during a series of raids conducted in the areas of Biscay, Girona, and Cantabria in Northern Spain. The raids recovered about 10,000 firearms including pistols, rifles, assault rifles, submachine guns, and machine guns, plus about 400 grenades, bombs, and other explosives.

Among the weapons recovered were a large number of CETME rifles, both the 7.62x51mm versions (including what appears to be at least one each of the rare CETME Model A and B prototypes) and 5.56mm CETME-Ls.

Top of the image, a rifle that I think may be a CETME Model A. Note the unusual grip panels and the oddly square receiver stamping.

 

Also included in the cache were large numbers of bolt-action rifles, including various generic Mausers (probably of the Spanish variety). However, probably the rarest weapon in the whole lot is what appears to be an example of the extremely obscure Spanish CB-52 assault rifle prototype:

For comparison, an image of the CB-52 from the Coruña Military History Museum:

The full scale of the weapons recovered can be seen in this image, showing a room full of eight-foot-tall stacks of assault rifles and a large number of what appear to be mortar shells:



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at [email protected]


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  • TVOrZ6dw

    I wonder what the background is an these weapons- especially the lever action at 6:36 in the video.

    • mikee

      There is something not quite right about this story. Someone has probably pissed off the authorities regarding red tape paperwork and all it entails. As a consequence a “fake” political show and tell story was invented to embarrass some party. Many of these (deactivated) weapons are historical and really do belong in museums. The video reveals that nearly all the weapons were used by the Spanish military and police at one time and were phased out of service to be replaced by more modern weapons. The swords, bayonets, muzzle loaders etc., and other edged weapons do not really fit the mantra of a dodgy black market operation in illegal weapons. Money on the premises, not exactly a fortune! Something smells!!!

      • Stephen Paraski

        Agree,

      • J Garcia Sampedro

        Look my former comment 😉

    • J Garcia Sampedro

      Deactivated firearms from militaria and collectibles stores. Can be seen in the video, with the revolvers, the B’s and the Alfas more clearly.
      Closed cardboard boxes with “spares” written on them seems the justification to Europol this was a dangerous terrorist supplier (cause is the rage among islamic terrorists to use vintage machineguns), and since january, charges haven’t been pressed yet against those arrested. The court and police department in charge of the “operation” is also very irregular.

      Then, after almost three months, the news then go live the day the EU gun-ban is being “voted”. Must have taken a lot of time to pile up all those rifles.

  • Jose

    Santa Armeria! Holy Armory! That’s the biggest weapons cache ever seen. Cetmes! Mausers! Llamas! Astras! Alfas! Oh My!! Enough weapons to equip an army of 10,000+ men. Next thing: To the smelter. Or: send the Cetmes as kits, so both HMG and Century Arms can rebuild them as semi-auto rifles; or to APEX. They will know what to do.

    • Weaver

      Please don’t send them to century.

      • jimmy craked corn

        Who else is would willing to do the work? Century is only company I can think of that would.

        • Renegade

          Yeah, but that doesn’t mean Century knows how to do it right. Send the parts kits here and let local smiths put things together.

        • Scott P

          HMG did a decent job with their CETME part builds, let them do it and reap the benefits.

        • J Garcia Sampedro

          Problem is the demilling of those has barrel and trunnion drilled, bolts cut and welded, and other “pretty things”.
          Just look closely at the revolvers in the video, the most anti-aesthetical of the demilling due to simpler operation.

      • marathag
  • Ark

    It blows my mind that Europe has that much of a black market for weaponry, given how little violence actually happens. Select-fire battle rifles? What criminals are buying those?

    • Topo Solitario

      It seems that “good dealers never use their product” is valid for drug and weapons market alike XD

    • PK

      Exported to any number of nations with active regional conflicts, plenty of criminals would buy those rifles.

      • Ark

        This is the only real explanation I can come up with: They’re all in route to some kind of actual warzone to supply combatants who can’t procure guns on the regular market.

        • Joshua

          most of Europe’s peace has come as a result of making problems easier, elsewhere, it’s easier to sell and export these things into Africa the Middle East and Russia, so that’s where they go, the major crime powers in Europe are armed, but it’s easier to fight, elsewhere, streetwars attract attention, but cyber and economic warfare? that’s pretty easy now, and doesn’t bring the police on you.

          As long as people believe that they have an easier alternative, they will usually go for it, who wants to send kids on suicide missions in Krakow to interrupt you competitors supply when you can sell for a lower price closer to the source and push him out that way, or send some obsolete Spanish arms to Afghanistan and have the tribals there fight your war by proxy. It’s easier to solve your problems, elsewhere.

    • Steve_7

      It’s not a black market, he was a legit dealer in militaria. All his stock was deactivated to the old deactivation specification which was superseded by the new EU standard in April last year. Unfortunately that technical standard has some serious flaws and will be revised by the end of May. So apparently while he was waiting he decided to forge the deactivation certificates.

  • Topo Solitario

    For those readers who doesn’t understand spanish, the cache is composed ONLY of disabled weapons, but they’re disabled under obsolete methods (disabling weapons changed across time in spanish legislation) so it is easy to bring them back to action with pieces included… Back then disabling only involved some drills across the barrel, not wielding locks or other vital parts. You can even see in some images cutaway guns (I saw an AMELI light machine gun used for instruction at 6:20 ie.
    Mortar shells and hand grenades are deactivated (has no explosive inside) according to the speech.

    Cache includes:
    9000 CETME assault rifles of different versions
    500 Rifles and shotguns
    400 Handguns
    300 Machineguns
    300 Mortar shells and grenades

    They had pieces to put them back into service, and tools to make forged documentation and change weapon numbers.

    • HY

      Thanks for clearing that up, every news story makes this sound like 10,000 live guns – So basically, the 10,000 or so ‘items’ touted as a firearms are in fact legal to own deactivated (non-live firing) guns that with some work by some nefarious criminals could be made to live fire again.

      • iksnilol

        You forget there were parts and papers included to reactivate them and make them appear legal.

      • Joshua

        not legal, they were deactivated under an old standard which was found to be to easy to reactivate, when the new standard was introduced these arms were not updated, so while they are not functional in and of themselves they are not legal, they are improperly deactivated, and it seems that they were seized with the components to reactivate them, and forged paperwork to make them appear to be legal to own.

        • J Garcia Sampedro

          Not the old standard, which can be seen in the revolvers, the B’s and the Alfas.
          And closed cardboard boxes with “spares” written on them doesn’t mean anything. To reactivate any of the CETME’s you will need a new barrel, a new trunnion, a new bolt head, patch the holes in the receiver over the trunnion, AND install it correctly.

          • Daniel Moratal

            That’s right , and where are the new barrels?? no photos of any barrel ,
            even if this way of deactivation it’s now not legal to sold , the rifles deactivated in such way are not ilegal to keep…

    • Weaver

      Thanks for sharing that, I was wondering what he was saying. I will say a lot of those Cetme L and LCs seem to be in really good shape.

      • J Garcia Sampedro

        Most of those come from last years auction of two decomissioned bases. The main buyer was old time friend of the former general in command there, and that gave them the winning bid (supposedly, of course).

        The sting was in january, the judge in charge (not from a court with jurisdiction on this issue) has not accused the suspects of anything yet, but they spent three months to stage this show of propaganda (totally by chance, mind you) the day the EU “votes” the new Europe-wide gun-ban.

        According to Guardia Civil sources (the department with the monopoly on gun-related affairs here), but soon taken down of their webpage, only six of all the firearms impounded were susceptible to be reactivated with the resources also impounded (several tools, a vertical drill, and spares).

        So, basically, anti-gun propaganda on continental level. And it could be worse!

        • Daniel Moratal

          Absolutelly agree with you …

    • PK

      That makes much more sense.

      The USA equivalent seems to be about like having parts kits, parts/tooling to build them back to milspec, and a stack of forged NFA stamps/forms to make them appear legal. Illegal, clearly showing ill intent, but not really anything dangerous as-is.

      Still, all things considered, good catch on the part of the authorities!

    • Brick

      Thank you for clarifying this.

    • Rnasser Rnasser

      Gracias Topo!

    • jimmy craked corn

      There are experimental CETME’s in that stack. You can see at least one in the picture just bellow the video.

    • MiniBus

      Thank you Topo, this story was frankly a little baffling without your additional explanations

      • Duddly Doright

        “little”? 🙂

  • Pat C

    There is no doubt in my mind that this was a wholesale exporter who exports parts kits, parts and C&R guns to the US and other countries. Probably the same people who sell Century CETME kits.
    They probably got on the wrong side of the Spanish Gov or screwed up their accounting – hence their taxes. That much Spanish military surplus doesnt accumulate without the Spanish govt authorizing it

    • car54

      I agree. Probably less nefarious than the Spanish govt makes out. And yes I did read where they had parts, papers etc to reactivate them. Doesn’t mean they did or were going to.

      • oldman

        There are quite a number of groups that would love to get their hands on easily restored weapons.

        • Stephen Paraski

          Yes, US Collectors.

          • Conner

            Obviously you’re a man of my thinking Stephen, Even though Most of this looks Century Arms had a penny day sale on CETME’s, I’m thinking I see a Broom handled Mauser and possibly an M18 sub. along with some others. As a gunsmith/collector, it would be like Christmas to have a chance to walk through here and shop.

      • J Garcia Sampedro

        Raid was in january, but it took them three monts to stage this show, exactly the same day the new EU-gun-ban was being voted. None of those arrested has been accused of anything yet (also a VERY irregular thing).

        According to Guardia Civil sources, the ones that should be in charge of this operation, but are NOT, since it started as an Europol “investigation”, only six guns could be possible made operational again.

    • neckbone

      Exactly what was happening. Then they were getting into Eastern Europe and the Muslim gangs were getting them and converting them to use in terror attacks. This is how they tracked a bunch of weapons they retrieved in raids after the European isis attacks. Muslims ruining a good thing again.

      • Jack daugherty

        Yeah. Uh, more likely MOSSAD operatives making the camel humpers look bad again. i.e. 9/11

    • Mark

      Exactly my first thought: A legal exporter that found themselves on the losing end of a tax issue(political war)

    • Nils Svein

      Read Topo’s post above, he helps us translate the video. They had parts and tools needed to illegally reactivate these firearms. Almost certainly with intent to sell to gangs, criminals or terrorists. Not at all a legal exporter or firearms.

    • Steve_7

      He’s a dealer in militaria, the EU imposed a new deac spec last year which is unworkable and will be shortly revised, so it appears while he was waiting he forged the deactivation certificates so he could move his stock.

  • JoelC

    All will be destroyed I’m sure. 🙁

  • Seth Hill

    1) Win next MegaMillions/PowerBall
    2) Buy island in international waters
    3) Contact Spain with offer to remove eeeeevil weapons from the country
    4) Transport weapons to island
    5) Enjoy new acquisitions

    • John

      NFA Land!

    • Stephen Paraski

      Give me a Visa.

      • Stephen Paraski

        To Seth Land Island.

  • jimmy craked corn

    That place is half museum. They have almost every generation of small arms from the early 1900s till today. I saw at least one cap and ball revolver. Everything in those roll out cabinets should be in a museum.

    • J Garcia Sampedro

      Because those are from several collectibles and militaria stores.
      It would be easier to build a new gun from scratch than reactivate one of those (look how the revolvers are cut, in the rifles it gets covered by tha handguard, and the inner cuts and weldings cannot be seen).

  • Audie Bakerson

    Note this was 10,000+ guns in one shop that only has 200,000 active military (most of whom aren’t going to be frontline combatants) across the entire country and overseas. That’s enough to start a revolution

  • Cal.Bar

    Someone PLEASE show the US media what a REAL “arsenal” of weapons looks like. Tired of three .22’s and Glock being referred to as an “arsenal” of weapons.

    • Rooftop Voter

      A box of 50 Remington Kleen Bore 22 shorts by US definition is an armory full of ammo. Some media types would call a person in possession of this an “ammo hoarder.”
      In the early 60’s, Western Auto sold them for around 49 cents a box if I recall. Greasy little things.

  • John

    Just LOOK at all that candy!

  • datimes

    The Western ‘democracies’ would take great pleasure in destroying this cache.

  • One planet earth

    Fidel s guns?

  • Nigel Tegg

    Can we also appreciate how much effort someone put into stacking all those firearms so neatly…

    • tommytomaso

      Came here to post about what a great job, OCD level of work here

      • MattBracken

        The ATF would have used a front end loader and piled them up.

        • Wayne Petersen

          I read this last night . Couldn’t find anything in the news this morning (MSM). You have replied to some of my comments. I believe you live in Florida. Would like to meet you in person. Possible?

    • J Garcia Sampedro

      It took them three months, since the raids were in january, but this “news” went out the day of passing the new Europe-wide gun-ban. (not on purpose, surely)

      Everything of this “investigation” has been very irregular, with europol making arrests without jurisdiction, and the Guardia Civil (the only ones with authority in firearm related issues) has been kept out of it. The judge has not formally accused the suspect yet (tops is one month), and is not even from a court with jurisdiction on the matter.

      Only crime that probably happenned was the rigging of the auction where those firearms (and the obligation of deactivating them according to law, which was done) were bought. The main buyer of those lots has been accused of that before.

  • Random Disabled Person

    Don’t forget that evil Drill Press and Milling machine . Those two lone machines clearly show the large scale production …. No “assault hammers” were found I guess.

    The sheer value of the stocks alone is north of $20-30 grand in the USA. I’m hoping they make it to the market…

    The way they were stacked was obviously done for show. Bonus points for showing those scary Astra pistols amongst the rifles. One has to wonder if these are propaganda pieces made to show some massive victories in fake war on ______. Since that nice of a collection would have to come from the government/military for the level of expensive storage and environmental control needed to keep everything in nice condition. Even if the rain falls straight on the plains of Spain.

    Sadly they had very few magazines…

    This may seem large but compare it to the demobilization/demilitarization stock piles from WW1 & WW 2 for comparison. Which is saddening to us as gun owners and collectors. for how much the “Arsenal” level has dropped.

  • Paul Feaheny

    All of these firearms are deactivated (albeit to “old” standards). If the EU has it’s way the only allowable deacts will be in the form of a square block from a smelter. All of the CETMEs and HMGs and mortars were, as I understand it purchased LEGALLY from the Spanish government. Also ,as I understand it, this guy legally purchased the remains of the Spanish arms industry LEGALLY (Star, Astra, Llama etc.) when it went down the toilet.

    Ironic that this makes the news now and not in early Feb when it happened as the EU parliament is currently discussing new (and more repressive) firearms regulations for all countries within.

    • jimmy craked corn

      You can cut parts with a torch or weld parts together as well.

    • J Garcia Sampedro

      It was in january.
      And not the “old” standard. The one used is way more effective=destructive (except in the aesthetic department) than the new one proposed by EU, and just look at those revolvers in the video.
      The “spares to reactivate” them are inexistant, since no barrels, trunnions, bolt heads (for rifles) or slides (for pistols) were found.

      Jus ask the Guardia Civiles that were expressly forbidden to participate in the investigation.

  • GhostTrain81

    Damm…. the OCD is strong with whoever organized that warehouse.

  • Madcap_Magician

    OK, it would actually be legit for the media to call that an arsenal.

  • Topo Solitario

    Some argued that this is a HUGE batch of weapons for a country with such a small army. Take into account that back then, in 1984, spanish army peaked with about 380.000 active soldiers (310.000 plain soldiers, first class soldiers and corporals). And during nineties, we went from that number to current 110.000 soldiers with two major assault rifle updates, from the Cetme C to Cetme L and LC during the nineties and from that two to the G36 during the first decade of the XXI century.

    That is A LOT of surplus rifles, with not that much destroyed.
    For example, years ago, you can go to Toledo and buy a deactivated Cetme L (using the old deactivation protocol) at tourist shops in the main street without even needing a collector document.

    • Steve_7

      With three holes drilled through the barrel the Model L probably works better. I did laugh when they bought a load of ammo from RG, which at the time was about the worst SS109 ammo available.

  • Brasstard

    So they were legal when purchased. This is just for show at the time EU cracking down on guns. Too bad all will be destroyed including the extra parts and cap and ball revolver

    • Calavera

      Already accomplished. Take a close look. Everything in that warehouse has been gutted/deactivated. No charging handles. Welded receivers. Mortar rounds rendered inert. Not a single magazine anywhere. In the Spanish tradition: My uncle served in the Spanish army prior to the outbreak of the civil war. The Spanish govt. didn’t trust it’s own military so, SOP it maintained weapons in one garrison warehouse, while bolts, bayonets, ammo were stored in another on the far side of Madrid. When time came to defend the city, officers had no choice but to lead charges against rebel positions with nothing but a riding crop in hand. and their men armed with inoperable rifles. Their bolts carefully inventoried, stored, and locked away in a distant warehouse.

      • jimmy craked corn

        That is why they took them. They are demilled under the old law and just required some holes to be drilled into the barrel. They were taken do to a new law and these have to be demilled to the new laws standards. The new standards involve a cutting torch and a welder. The reason they have the machines to makes more is they were supposed to destroy them.

        • J Garcia Sampedro

          Nope, most of the demilling process for rifles is internal (chamber, trunnion and barrel, AND bolt face and firing pin) and not seen from the outside. The auction and deactivating was donde last year, so that means the new standard.
          The mention to the old law started appearing after complains that charges haven´t been pressed in three months, but this “stage” has been exposed the day of the EU gun-ban voting in Brussels (it appeared in the news in other European countries BEFORE than in Spain).

      • O3 from the ‘Nam era

        Good insight!

  • Micah Freeman

    So the only question I have & I know it’s splitting hairs to a degree, what’s the difference between rifle, assault rifle & machine gun? Rifle would be any bolt or semi & machine would be full auto.

    This drives me up the wall

  • Wang Chung Tonight
    • Wow!

      “Quality machine guns a cheap prices! Our inventory has to GO!”

      (I wish)

  • Patrick K Martin

    Please let them make them into parts kits. . .
    Please let them make them into parts kits. . .
    Please. . .

    • J Garcia Sampedro

      Unless a judge with REAL jurisdiction over this case sends everybody packing, all these will be destroyed, and with a lot of publicity, as a “proof” the EU gun-ban approved last week is working.

  • Ted Dentay

    Well, you guys can wax on eloquent about the goodies there as much as you want. Me? God but I wish I could have gone shopping there! At my age I know DEWATS are only as good as the best machinist. Hell, back when you guys were DEMILLING early M16s (mostly A1s) I know one guy who got three nice chunks of upper receiver and managed to put ’em all back together again (legally) and with all “US GOVT PROPERTY” stamps complete.

    • Steve_7

      Upper receiver doesn’t have US Govt. property stamps.

  • Leigh Rich

    Be sweet if the kits came to the USA again. Misleading title of articular.

  • Keric Fritzsching

    That’s a real bummer when you need an original cetme cocking tube and barrel! These are probably going to be destroyed!?

  • Schmiss

    Quick, someone send Ian at them before anything happens!

  • Tim X

    Sorry, no habla Espanol. Why were they being stored / shipped? To whom did they belong and what was their intention? Looks like someone was getting ready to arm a 3rd world army of some sort. As Topo points out, they were capable of being recommissioned without much investment.

    • J Garcia Sampedro

      Auctioned from two decommisioned military bases (there were accusations of rigging the bids), and deactivated legally (there is a “new information” about being to old standard, but the new is not legal yet.
      But the raids were in january, no charges pressed yet for those arrested, and this “show” went to all news services the day the new Europe-wide gun-ban was “voted” in Brussels.

      They also are saying now that the AKs used by the terrorists in France and Beliugm come from this stores raided, but I can´t see any AK in those piles. Also, even Serbia admited they came from the Balkans, according to the serial numbers on them, but what does reality has to do with political agendas?

      • Thomas Kuhn

        Agreed… What doe it matter where they came from. There are Millions of AK’s (both honest machined versions and cheap, stamped knock-offs) available. We are paying over $500 for a “legal” AK in the States while $100 US seems to be the going price in African “Farmer’s markets”. Obliviously the middle men (illegal importers) are sopping up the difference on $. We are led to believe these “illegal” importers are Third World bad guys, but how many are our own internet gun shops, just one transfer removed?

  • Colonel K

    Century Arms, your parts supplier is calling. There may be a delay in the next shipment.,

  • Northerner

    i sure hope they dont destroy all those beautiful weapons. they should sell them to collectors and legal shooters. local government would make a LOT of money selling all of those guns.

    • Steve_7

      They’re going to be destroyed, they already are deactivated to the old Spanish spec.

  • Michael Hassell

    Who were they seized from? If the purpose of having them wasn’t nefarious they should return the property. If it was meant to arm a horde to attack someone then that should be the story.

  • gyrfalcon

    What a waste

  • Eric B.

    Now THIS is a serious “collection”. I assume the”collectors” are now in prison.

    • J Garcia Sampedro

      They haven’t been charged yet. This is a political propaganda operation using the deactivated firearms from several militaria stores to further the agenda of the EU gun-ban approved last week. The judge in charge has no jurisdiction on this kind of case, and neither Europol or Policia Nacional (this is Guardia Civil jurisdiction).

      It took them three months to stack the rifles so neatly, so this “news” would go live the day of the voting for disarming law abiding citizens and remove deactivated weapons from the streets. All to protect us from terrorism, mind you.

  • disqus_XlYouOiadt

    I notice they say ‘recovered.’ Who in government was responsible for losing them in the first place?

    • J Garcia Sampedro

      Were auctioned last year for deactivation.
      They use politically correct vocabulary, since this is just propaganda for the EU gun-ban approved last week.

  • Jim Kiser

    Thank you Topo. That made it easier to understand what’s happening.
    I would still LOVE to have one of each weapon for my collection. Our laws are better than most but still have a long way to go before they’re right again.

  • bobk90

    Looks to me that they RAIDED their own Warehouses that were forgotten…

  • J Garcia Sampedro

    EU standard is not aplicable here until the new “Reglamento de Armas y Explosivos” is approved. And before that, the courts must pronounce in al the AE wild-west-revolvers mess, and the government to start doing anything at all in a few more things.

  • Jor ‘el

    Awww, I cant help but sometimes feel that when a group of cutthroats, villains, anarchists, and warmongerers have spent all this time amassing a very cool collection of revolution startin’ tools that when they get caught, I kinda feel bad for them. All their toys getting confiscated seems such a killjoy. sigh. . .