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UK police nab 11 in Net gun crackdown

Operation Bembridge begins with dawn raids

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UK police today launched a crackdown on the sale of illegal weapons over the Internet. Raids began in London, with searches of 18 addresses.

More than 20 illegal weapons have been seized in Operation Bembridge already, including 17 guns, a tear gas canister and four air rifles. In addition, officers collected nine guns designed to fire blanks, but capable of being converted to fire live ammunition. So far, 11 men have been arrested.

More raids are planned throughout the UK as the police target over 200 people suspected of buying the prohibited weapons from sources on the Net.

Alan Green, deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, said: "People must learn that it is still an offence to possess stun guns and CS gas in this country even though they have been acquired abroad.

"The message from the operation is that if you have bought prohibited weapons over the Internet you risk being arrested, charged and if convicted receiving a criminal record." He said the operation had depended on close co-operation between HM Customs and Excise and the National Criminal Intelligence Service.

UK gun controls were tightened following the massacre by a lone gunman of 16 children in Dunblane, a small Scottish town, in 1996. All handguns are banned and illegal possession of a firearm now carries a mandatory five-year sentence. ®

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