Two arrested in internet arms sales investigation

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Two men have been arrested after more than 40 police officers raided two addresses in Kent early this morning. Police were supported by officials from the Ministry of Defence.

A 61-year old man was arrested in Darland Avenue, Gillingham, and a 40-year old was held in Chestnut Street, near Sittingbourne. Both are suspected of having weapons prohibited under the Firearms Act.

The officers were investigating the alleged sale of weapons over the internet. Both addresses are still being searched.

Detective Eddie Fox of Kent's organised crime unit said: "Today's action was part of an ongoing enquiry. A number of items are being seized and removed from the two locations for analysis and examination but we can't specify what they are at this stage."

Earlier this summer the government was criticised by the splendidly-named Quadripartite Committee which oversees government export strategy. The Times reports MPs were influenced by comedian Mark Thomas who helped a group of school children set themselves up as arms dealers.

But it appears this investigation involves historic weapons and the MOD officials were on hand to advise on safety.

UK arms exports average about £5bn a year, according to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade researchers using government figures.

The UK government publishes some information on licenses granted for arms exports, but not enough to work out the value of the trade. There's government information on exports available here (pdf)

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