10 May 2018
National Crime Agency (NCA) investigators are questioning two men from Essex over an attempt to import a deadly haul of firearms into the UK.
The weapons included two AR-15 assault rifles of the same type used in mass shootings at a school in Parkland, Florida in February and at a music festival in Las Vegas last October, as well as four handguns and ammunition.
They were found by Border Force officers at Dover on 20 April. The guns had been hidden in a special compartment in the floor of a Peugeot van being brought into the UK on the back of a flat-bed truck.
The investigation into the seizure was handed to the NCA, who arrested the driver, a 66-year-old man from Grays, Essex on suspicion of firearms importation. He was later released under investigation.
NCA officers, assisted by Border Force, today (10 May) executed a series of warrants at five locations in Essex in connection with the seizure. Two men, both aged 31 and from the Basildon area were arrested on suspicion of importation offences.
A number of house searches also took place, during which several thousand pounds in cash was recovered.
NCA senior investigating officer Darren Herbert said:
“In recent weeks we have seen a number of significant firearms seizures at Dover and I would say that is testament to the hard work of the NCA, Border Force and other law enforcement partners who strive to protect the public.
“We know that one of the types of weapon detected in this particular seizure has devastating firepower, having been used in a number of mass shootings in the United States.
“This makes it all the more important that these weapons are kept out of the hands of violent criminals and off our streets.
“Our investigations continue.”
Paul Morgan, Director of Border Force South East and Europe said:
“This was an excellent detection from my officers at Dover. The weapons had been hidden in a specially adapted concealment within the floor of a Peugeot van which could only be opened electronically. The vehicle had been altered with the sole purpose of smuggling in mind.
“We work closely with law enforcement partners, like the NCA, and are determined to prevent potentially deadly weapons such as these from reaching the UK’s streets. Our work led to the seizure of more than 10,000 offensive weapons last year.”
UPDATE: Both men arrested in Essex were later released under investigation