A 49-year-old Lake Macquarie man has been charged with drug and firearms offences following a joint operation in Charlestown between the Australian Border Force (ABF) and NSW Police Force.
The operation began when border intelligence officers identified a number of online purchases of firearms-related items being sent to a residence in Charlestown.
Subsequently, ABF officers at the Sydney International Mail Gateway intercepted a number of mail items containing firearm parts.
On Wednesday, December 5, a search warrant was executed by officers from the ABF and investigators from NSW Police Force’s Drug and Firearms Squad and Lake Macquarie Police District at a home at Charlestown.
During the search, officers seized five long-arm firearms, two sound-and-flash grenades, one gas propelled anti-personal mine, seven gas-propelled grenade-type canisters, various calibres of ammunition, body armour, camouflage gear, and a hydroponic set-up with five cannabis plants.
Police seized all the firearms for forensic and ballistic examination.
The man was arrested and taken to Belmont Police Station, where he was charged with cultivate prohibited plant, two counts of possess unauthorised prohibited firearm, three counts of possess unauthorised firearm, three counts of possess unregistered firearm, four counts of possess or use a prohibited weapon without permit, unauthorised possession of firearms in aggravated circumstances, two counts of possess ammunition, and five counts of not keep firearm safely.
ABF officers also charged the man with 11 counts of prohibited import of firearm parts. The man was refused bail and appeared in Newcastle Local Court yesterday (Thursday, December 6).
ABF Investigations Superintendent Garry Low said the detection highlights the commitment of the ABF and partner agencies to removing potentially dangerous weapons from the community.
“We have significant intelligence capabilities to detect online purchases of firearms and accessories and through our investigations we have located a number of other serious weapons,” Superintendent Low said.
“People need to be aware of the regulations around importing these items into Australia and that the ABF will investigate and take action against anyone found to be illicitly bringing them into the country.”
NSW Police Drug and Firearms Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Martin Fileman, said that the unauthorised and illicit possession of firearms are a concern for law enforcement.
“We’ve seen through recent investigations that there is an illegal market in sourcing firearms, replicas, and related paraphernalia, as well as equipment and parts to manufacture firearms locally,” Det Supt Fileman said.
“Even if a firearm is incomplete or won’t fire, the simple fact is: if it looks like a real gun, under the law, it is a gun, and we will lay charges as such.
“Just one firearm in the wrong hands could be fatal and we will continue to target anyone who illegally possesses, supplies or manufactures firearms in NSW.”
Anyone who is aware of an individual, who may be involved in importing firearms or firearms parts illegally is urged to contact Border Watch at www.australia.gov.au/borderwatch
Information relating to the illicit manufacture, supply, or possession of firearms can be reported to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au