National Crime Agency officers have arrested a man in County Down on suspicion of importing firearms in the post.

NCA and police jacketsThe 29-year-old was detained by NCA officers, supported by colleagues from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, as they executed a warrant in Bangor this morning (Wednesday 8 July).

Thirteen weapons, believed to be forward venting blank firearms, were recovered during a search of the property. NCA investigators suspect they had been purchased online and mailed to the address.

Forward-venting blank firearms are illegal in the UK, and are readily convertible to fire live rounds.

Officers also recovered two air rifles, an array of weapons including pepper sprays, machetes, knives and knuckle dusters, and half a kilo of cannabis.

The arrested man remains in custody and is now being questioned.

NCA Belfast Branch Commander David Cunningham said:

“This type of firearm can be converted into a lethal weapon, and then used by organised criminals to threaten, intimidate, and kill.

“We are investigating whether these weapons were being imported with the intention of them being sold on the criminal market.

“Working with our colleagues at the PSNI we are determined to do all we can to disrupt the flow of illegal firearms and keep them off the streets of Northern Ireland.

“Criminals smuggling these weapons should know we and our policing partners will pursue them tirelessly.”

Project Vizardlike is a national NCA-led operation targeting people buying forward venting blank firing weapons online and importing them into the UK.

Since 2018, more than 550 prohibited weapons and 3500 rounds of ammunition have been seized in the UK by the NCA and police forces as part of this project, with almost a hundred arrests made.

If you have any information about illegal firearms or any concerns about people’s access to firearms, please report it to police or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

08 July 2021