Three men have been charged for their alleged roles in attempts to import a large number of firearms parts into Australia through the postal system.
The operation began on 9 January 2019 when Australian Border Force (ABF) officers at the Melbourne International Mail Facility targeted a consignment containing a child’s toy motorcycle.
X-ray analysis identified anomalies in the consignment and further examination by ABF officers revealed multiple firearm parts had been hot-glued to the outside of the motorcycle.
Following further investigation with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the ABF identified another two packages that were found to contain firearms parts in a similar concealment.
Last week (21 – 24 January 2019), a number of search warrants were executed in the Melbourne suburbs of Brunswick and Southbank, as well as locations in New South Wales at locations believed to be associated with the importations.
During the operation, investigators seized:
•60 gun receivers
•24 drum magazines capable of holding 50 bullets
•16 handgun frames •springs, magazine followers, and end caps
A 25-year-old man, a 26-year-old man and a 33-year-old man were charged with:
•possess a traffickable quantity of unregistered firearms contrary to 7C(1) of Firearms Act 1996 (Vic)
•trafficking prohibited firearms or firearm parts into Australia contrary to section 361.2 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)
•intentionally import goods, being tier 2 goods comprising firearm parts, being reckless as to the fact that the goods were tier 2 goods, and being goods the importation of which was prohibited under the Customs Act 1901 (Cth) unless the approval of a particular person had been obtained and at the time of the importation that approval had not been obtained, contrary to section 233BAB(5) of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth)
•in the course of trade or commerce among the States, between Territories or between a Territory and a State, engage in conduct that constitutes an offence under a firearm law, reckless as to the fact that the primary element of the offence is the acquisition of a firearm or a firearm part by the person contrary to section 360.2(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).
The 33 year old male faces an additional charge in relation to the destruction of evidence. The maximum penalty for these charges is 10 years imprisonment.
AFP Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said the seizures were significant, and attempts to illegally import firearms parts were always treated seriously.
“Attempting to smuggle items like these will always attract a swift and comprehensive response from law enforcement. We do not want unregulated and unchecked items possibly making their way to criminal groups, which then has far-reaching consequences for the safety of the community,” Superintendent Crossling said.
“There is now no chance that these weapons will end up in the dangerous hands of Outlaw Criminal Motorcycle Gangs or other criminals. The AFP and our partners will continue to work together with our international colleagues to stop these items entering our community. This is a great example of good, cooperative policing with a positive outcome for everyone.”
ABF Regional Commander Victoria, Craig Palmer, said the detection highlights the effectiveness of the multi-layered approach deployed by ABF at the border.
“ABF officers working in the international mail environment, in Melbourne and around the country, are highly skilled in targeting suspect consignments and detecting firearms parts, no matter how they are concealed,” Regional Commander Palmer said.
“Our officers are supported by technology and use other detection methodologies at our international mail centres to identify a range of high risk items. In this case these techniques have helped us prevent a significant number of firearms entering the community and potentially falling into the wrong hands.
“The ABF continues to work closely with our law enforcement partners to detect and seize illicit firearms parts and go after the criminals attempting to use them or profit from their importation.”