British Border Police discovered what might be the largest cache of smuggled firearms ever to be found at a UK port. 60 pistols were found during a search at the Port of Dover on 2 August. The pistols are believed to be blank firing pistols converted to live fire.
The 60 weapons were apparently hidden within “deeply inside the car’s bumper and both rear quarter panels.” The guns were found by what is quaintly described by the National Crime Agency as a specialist deep-rummage team”. The initial search discovered a blank firing SIG Sauer P226 pistol, with a barrel converted to fire live ammunition, in the car’s rear-left quarter panel, accessible from the boot/trunk of the car. The rest of the vehicle, a Volkswagen Passat was then searched completely.
A 37-year-old man, Robert Keogh, from Dublin, was arrested and charged with illegally importing firearms and appeared at nearby Margate Magistrates’ Court on 5 August.
In a statement Andrea Wilson, the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) head of regional investigations south, said:
This is a major achievement. The NCA and Border Force have removed a huge haul of lethal firearms and will have made a significant impact on the organised crime group responsible for this attempted importation. Our investigation into the seizure is ongoing but there’s little doubt that these weapons would have gone on the criminal market and into the hands of seriously dangerous individuals. The level of gun crime in the UK is one of the lowest in the world. But these weapons pose massive potential for harm making their criminal use a priority for the NCA and wider UK law enforcement. We work internationally to halt the flow of guns trafficked to the UK and Border Force is a vital partner in this work to protect the nation. This seizure is a great example of that partnership working.
Nick Drinkal, regional director of Border Force South East & Europe added:
This is a significant seizure of lethal firearms that could have reached the hands of criminal gangs operating within the United Kingdom. The actions of the officers involved in this event have undoubtedly saved many lives and by doing so has highlighted the vital role Border Force plays, together with our partner agencies, in the fight against organised crime.
Sadly, of course, the Border Force and National Crime Agency did not share further photos of the guns unpacked so we could see what sort of other pistols/blank firers were being smuggled into the country and estimates on how many guns are smuggled across the channel annually are not currently available.