Illicit Firearms Unit tackling gun crime in Shepparton

Police have seized three illicit firearms, issued 14 Firearm Prohibition Orders (FPOs) and conducted a number of compliance checks as part of an operation targeting individuals with a propensity for serious violence in Shepparton.

The Illicit Firearms Unit (IFU), along with detectives from the Echo Task Force, Eastern Region Crime Squad, Shepparton Crime Investigation Unit and the Australian Federal Police’s National Anti-Gangs Squad were involved in the two-day operation, which commenced on Monday 18 January.

As part of Operation Eastern Assist, the IFU issued FPOs to individuals with prior criminal behaviour, including firearms, drug and family violence related offending.

A 31-year-old Kialla man was arrested on Monday and charged with a range of offences including:

• Prohibited person possess firearm;

• Possess prohibited weapon without exemption/approval;

• Fair to surrender firearm upon prohibition order served;

• Possess firearm when firearm prohibition order applies;

• Fair to surrender firearm related item upon prohibition order served;

• Possess firearm related item when firearm prohibition order applies; and

• Commit an indictable offence whilst on bail.

An imitation firearm, air rifle, rifle scope and ammunition were surrendered to police upon service of the FPO.

However a subsequent search by police also located a rifle, rifle scope and a prohibited weapon.

He will face Shepparton Magistrates’ Court today.

Police also seized cannabis from three addresses during the operation, with two men charged with drug offences and bailed to appear at court at a later date. A third man also received a cannabis caution.

Firearm-related items and knives were also located at three properties.

Those issued with an FPO as part of Operation Eastern Assist were all males.

During the course of the operation, compliance checks were also undertaken on four individuals already currently subject to a FPO.

Firearm Prohibition Orders are an integral enforcement tool that provides police with specific powers to proactively respond to, disrupt and prevent firearm-related crime in Victoria and keep the community safe.

Once issued, an FPO remains in effect for 10 years for adults and five years for children, which is those between 14 and 17 years of age.

During that time, the individual is prohibited from acquiring, possessing, carrying or using any firearm or firearm related item such as ammunition.

They are also unable to enter a range of premises including firearms dealers, shooting ranges or firearms clubs.

The charges relating to FPOs are significant – 10 years imprisonment for acquiring, possessing, carrying or using a firearm or firearm related item.

The Illicit Firearms Unit is a newly launched team based within Victoria Police’s Crime Command that targets the manufacture, trafficking and use of illicit firearms across Victoria.

Quotes attributable to Detective Inspector Mick Daly, Illicit Firearms Unit:

“The Illicit Firearms Unit is dedicated to removing firearms such as these from our streets and making the Victorian community safer.

“We will now begin building a picture about how these firearms came to be in the community, what offending they have been involved in and what can we learn from each of these weapons to further disrupt the trafficking and use of illicit firearms in Victoria.”

“Taking a firearm out of the hands of a criminal, and making illicit firearms more difficult to obtain, are effective ways of preventing future offending and increasing public safety.

Quotes attributable to Inspector Matt Gleeson, Shepparton Investigation and Response:

“To seize a significant number of firearms and firearm related items is a great outcome for community safety in our region.

“We know illicit firearms often heavily feature in some of our most serious and violent crimes such as homicides, armed robberies, aggravated burglaries and family violence offending, as well as within the drug trade.

“The Shepparton community can rest assured that police will continue to target those involved in the use and trade of illicit firearms.”

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