79 ‘viable’ firearms bound for UK recovered from Channel Tunnel
Up to 79 “viable” weapons were seized from the trailer of a vehicle on Saturday in Coquelles, the French side of the Channel Tunnel, in a joint operation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and detectives from Scotland Yard’s organized crime unit.
Janusz Michek, 59, a Polish national, was one of the men charged at the scene, along with Denis Kolencukov, 23, a Czech national living Slough, Berkshire, who was arrested as he arrived in Dover from Dunkirk.
They were charged with evading prohibition or restriction on a prohibited weapon or ammunition, as well as conspiring to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life or enable another to do so.
The two men are due to appear at Uxbridge Magistrates Court in North London on Monday.
“Our recent threat assessment highlights that handguns are still commonly favored by some criminal groups in the UK,” the NCA’s deputy director of investigations, Graham Gardner, said.
“They may not be the largest firearm, but they are easily concealable and lethal in the hands of anyone prepared to use them,” he said, according to the Telegraph.
The NAC said the haul is the “single biggest seizure of handguns bound for the UK to date.”
Six other Polish men and women thought to be involved were arrested at the scene, but will face no further action.
Arms and ammunition measuring 4mm and 6mm were found hidden in specially-adapted engine boxes, the NCA said.
The number of murders and other violent crimes rose in England and Wales in 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The number of gun-related incidents was up 13 percent to 5,864 incidents. The surge is thought to have been caused by an increase in the criminal use of handguns and shotguns.
The ONS said the police figures show “small but genuine increases in some types of high-harm but small-volume violent crime.”
“There are some genuine increases that police forces across the country are responding to, particularly with regard to 14 percent rise in knife crime and 13 percent increase in firearms offences,” said Chief Constable Bill Skelly of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, April this year.
“The trend, which had been declining for many years but has now begun to climb more sharply, is a key priority for the police service,” he said, according to the Guardian.
“Forces will continue to target habitual offenders and conduct wide-ranging proactive operations to seize thousands of illegal weapons before they can be used to cause harm.”
London alone recorded a 42 percent surge in gun crime in the last year.
The Metropolitan Police recorded 2,544 gun crime offences between April 2016 to April 2017, up from 1,793 the year before.