Great Britain

Three jailed over gun parts hidden in toys

This is a joint media release on behalf of Australian Federal Police and Australia Border Force

Two men have been sentenced to four years' imprisonment and a third sentenced to three years and three months imprisonment for their role in an organised crime syndicate importing illegal firearm parts concealed inside children's toys.

The Australian Federal Police charged the men in January 2019, following the discovery of firearm parts, including 16 handgun frames, concealed inside a shipment of toy motorcycles bound for Melbourne.

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers in the Melbourne International Mail Gateway Facility identified and x-rayed the suspicious consignment imported from Ohio in the United States, discovering firearm magazines hot-glued to the outside of the toy motorbikes, along with 50-round magazines discovered inside the toys.

An additional two packages containing more firearm parts concealed in a similar manner were subsequently located.

The AFP coordinated the delivery of the toy motorcycles, leading to the arrest of the trio during their attempted collection of the firearm parts. Investigators then executed a number of search warrants across Melbourne and New South Wales over several days between January 21 and January 24, 2019.

During the operation, investigators seized:

65 gun receivers 27x 30 round magazines 5x 12 round magazines 24x drum magazines capable of holding 50 rounds and; springs, magazine followers and end caps

The two men, aged 25 and 26 years old were sentenced to four years (to serve a minimum of two years, nine months) after being convicted of the following offences:

Attempt to import firearm parts with the intention of trafficking contrary to sub-section 11.1(1) and 361.2(3) of the Criminal Code(Cth) Attempt to import Tier 2 goods contrary to sub-section 11.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth) and sub-section 233BAB(5) of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth) Fail to comply with an order under sub-section 3LA(2) of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) contrary to subsection 3LA(6) of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)

A third man, aged 33, was charged with:

Import firearms parts with the intention of trafficking contrary to sub-section 361.2(3) of the Criminal Code (Cth) Import Tier 2 goods contrary to sub-section 233BAB (5) of the Customs Act 1901. Obstruct commonwealth public officials contrary to sub-section 149.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth) Fail to comply with an order under sub-section 3LA(2) of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) contrary to sub-section 3LA(6) of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)

He was sentenced to three years and three months imprisonment (to serve a minimum of two years and three months).

AFP Detective Superintendent Paul Hopkins paid tribute to the excellent work of investigators which made this conviction possible.

"Thanks to the efforts of the AFP and our law enforcement partners, we have stopped the import of these dangerous weapons in their tracks and have slammed the brakes on a criminal syndicate attempting to pass their illegal firearms through Australian customs channels undetected," he said.

"I commend all of the investigators in this operation who have prevented these weapons from falling into the hands of criminals and outlaw motorcycle gangs, posing a serious threat to our community.

"The AFP and its partners will continue to work together with our international colleagues to stop the illegal trafficking of these weapons. This is a great example of good, cooperative policing with a positive outcome for everyone."

ABF Regional Commander Victoria, Craig Palmer, said the jail term these men received highlighted the risk people were taking when they attempted to import firearms or firearms parts into Australia.

"Some people mistakenly believe that they will evade detection by importing illicit objects concealed within every-day items," Commander Palmer said.

"The ABF stops parcels containing a variety of illicit items every single day. As this case shows, if we catch you importing firearms or other dangerous weapons you could face serious jail time."

Editor's note: Footage of the seizure can be found in this Hightail link

Media enquiries:

AFP National Media: (02) 5126 9297

ABF Media: (02) 6264 2211