Joint operation in Northern Ireland nets huge firearms and ammunition haul

No less than 24 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition have been seized in a joint operation conducted by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

The investigation commenced following the interception of an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and two hand guns by Border Force officers at an international parcel hub in the Midlands earlier this month. Officers recovered the firearms and ammunition haul during a raid at a house in Ardkeen, Newtownards on the morning of Friday 15 November.

A 61-year old man, who lived at the property and is a registered firearms holder, was arrested and released under investigation.

NCA branch commander David Cunningham commented: “This operation is an excellent example of the co-operation between the NCA, the PSNI and our Border Force colleagues. Together, we have identified and recovered a significant quantity of illegal firearms and ammunition that could have been used to commit serious violence or other criminality.”

Attempted gun smuggling

In parallel, two London men have been jailed for nearly 17 years for attempting to smuggle four Heckler and Koch handguns and 100 rounds of 9 mm ammunition into the UK.

Steven Landers, 56, of London Road in Elephant and Castle and Steven Mulroe, 41, of Yelverton Road in Battersea were both sentenced to eight years and three months each at Maidstone Crown Court.

NCA officers began an investigation after firearms and ammunition were found by Border Force in May this year.
Searching the car, officers found the stash in a bag underneath the boot carpet floor of the BMW being driven by Landers at the Channel Tunnel terminal in Coquelles. The pair were then arrested.

During interview, Landers claimed to NCA investigators they were going to Amsterdam to ‘visit brothels and smoke’ and knew nothing about the firearms and ammunition found in the car. However, as it was raining so hard they stopped the car and went to a hotel for the night leaving the car in the road nearby.

Landers could not remember what country he was in or the name of the hotel. He told NCA officers that ‘someone must have put the guns in the car’ without his knowledge.

Further investigation by the NCA

Further investigation by NCA officers revealed the pair knew exactly where they had been. Data retrieved from Mulroe’s phone showed he had used Wi-Fi at a hotel in Antwerp.

Officers found a parking ticket found showing the pair had stayed at a hotel in Breukelen in the Netherlands. They also found a receipt for £4,000 which had been changed into Euros from a money exchange shop in Tooting. No cash was found on either man when they were searched.

Landers and Mulroe were later charged with the illegal importation of firearms. They pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

NCA branch commander Martin Grace observed: “The nature and scale of organised crime is becoming ever-more complex, with criminal networks using a variety of methods to attempt to move firearms across international borders. Disrupting those supply routes is a priority for the NCA and our partners, and this operation is an example of that in action. In seizing these weapons, which were undoubtedly destined for the criminal marketplace, we’ve protected the people of the UK from the violence they would have inflicted.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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