Hong Kong police

Hong Kong police probe syndicate suspected of smuggling air guns to mainland China to be modified into powerful weapons

About 60 Hongkongers among more than 410 people arrested since July in crackdown against the racket

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 September, 2017, 11:34pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 September, 2017, 11:42pm

Hong Kong police are investigating a cross-border syndicate suspected of smuggling air guns into mainland China, where they were modified into powerful weapons that can fire bullets and sold online.

The process involves fitting a new barrel, firing pin and magazine. About 60 Hongkongers were among more than 410 people arrested since July in a crackdown against the racket.

Suspects were accused of producing, trafficking and selling guns in more than 20 cities in various provinces, according to the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department.

There were no arrests in Hong Kong. The Post was told the trade came to light after local authorities exchanged intelligence with authorities across the border.

Mainland police uncovered 10 underground dens used to make gun parts and closed 20 websites that traded illegal weapons and taught buyers how to assemble parts into a firearm. More than 250 home-made pistols, rifles and air guns were confiscated along with a large quantity of ammunition, gun parts and metal pellets.

A parcel carrying what appeared to be an air gun was delivered from Hong Kong and seized in Dongguan in April. That led authorities to arrest more than 50 people and confiscate more than 20 home-made guns, 840 rounds of ammunitions and 40 air guns, together with gun parts.

Liang Ruiguo of the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department said in Guangzhou on Thursday that it was a sophisticated network. “After receiving orders from buyers through the internet, middlemen assigned various manufacturers to make different gun parts,” he said.

After gathering the finished parts, the components were then sent to buyers by express delivery.

“Through the internet, buyers were taught how to use the components to assemble into a gun,” Liang said. Mainland authorities began investigating after discovering the illegal trading in Zhuhai, Foshan and Dongguan. The Post understands the operation, code-named “Ju Feng 33”, is still under way and further arrests are expected.

A Hong Kong government source said police were investigating a local syndicate that was thought to have been involved.

“The syndicate is suspected of buying air guns abroad and smuggling them from the city to Guangdong,” the source said.

It is believed guns were usually bought from the United States and Europe and dismantled before being delivered over the border by hand or express parcel. Earlier this year, tens of parcels carrying air guns were intercepted at the airport’s cargo terminal and taken away for inspection.

Possessing arms or ammunition without a licence carries a maximum penalty of 14 years’ jail and a HK$100,000 fine.