Australia has become the destination for thousands of high-powered firearms, sent to the country by a slew of overseas crime gangs.
Australia has become the destination for thousands of high-powered firearms, sent to the country by a slew of overseas crime gangs.

Inside Australia’s booming foreign gun trade

Thousands of high-powered firearms and gun parts are being sent to Australia by overseas organised crime groups.

Authorities have warned they are on high alert for incoming dangerous weapons as international travel and mail restrictions begin to ease.

The Saturday Herald Sun can reveal more than 5400 guns and parts have been stopped at the Australian border in the past two and a half years.

They include a massive number of handguns, rifles, shotguns and black powder firearms sent from regions including Asia and the United States.

A source told the Sunday Herald Sun silencers are one of the most common items being imported into the country.

Often firearms are broken into parts before being shipped to Australia in an effort to keep them concealed.

Thousands of high-powered firearms and gun parts are being sent to Australia by overseas organised crime groups
Thousands of high-powered firearms and gun parts are being sent to Australia by overseas organised crime groups

A total of 3769 gun parts and accessories, including auto sears, which covert a semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun, have been seized by the Australian Border Force since July 2018.

Gun dealers go to great lengths to try conceal the illicit items, including hiding them inside toys.

Most firearms circulating in Australia are not imported from overseas but sourced through the grey market.

The grey market refers to the highly unregulated trade of goods outside authorised distribution channels, and in the case of firearms, mainly comprises of rifles and shotguns that weren't registered or surrendered under the National Firearms Agreement in 1996.

A large-scale investigation is currently being undertaken by specialist Victoria Police illicit firearm detectives after a huge stash of guns, including shotguns and rifles, vanished while in the possession of Melbourne transit company, Morrows Logistics.

Authorities have warned they are on high alert for incoming dangerous weapons as international travel and mail restrictions begin to ease
Authorities have warned they are on high alert for incoming dangerous weapons as international travel and mail restrictions begin to ease

The firearms vanished over a month ago and it's feared they may have made it into the hands of Melbourne's dangerous underworld figures.

The number of firearm detections made at Australian borders significantly reduced during the pandemic as passenger travel and mail volumes decreased.

However an Australian Border Force spokeswoman said "organised crime groups continue to remain active" in their attempts to import illicit goods, including firearms, into Australia."

"ABF officers are deployed at every port of entry into Australia to scrutinise cargo at air and seaports," she said.

Thousands of gun parts and accessories, including auto sears, which covert a semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun, have been seized by the Border Force since July 2018
Thousands of gun parts and accessories, including auto sears, which covert a semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun, have been seized by the Border Force since July 2018

"Our commitment to keeping the community safe is enabled by sophisticated technology, detector dog units, and real time intelligence from law enforcement partners.

"Detections of firearms and firearm parts have been made in all cargo and traveller streams over preceding reporting periods."

Australian Federal Police said attempts to illegally import firearms or parts into the country are met with a "attract a swift and comprehensive" law enforcement response.

"We do not want unregulated, dangerous items possibly making their way to criminal groups, which then has far-reaching consequences for the safety of the Australian community," a spokeswoman said.

aneeka.simonis@news.com.au

@AneekaSimonis

Originally published as Inside Australia's booming foreign gun trade



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