A tofu maker accused of turning to arms dealing after his business got into difficulties has been detained by police in eastern China on suspicion of running a network selling illegal air guns. The 34-year-old tofu shop owner, identified by his surname Zhou, set up a network that within four months had covered 20 provinces and had made a profit of over 100,000 yuan (US$15,172) before being caught, local police officer Qiao Zhining told Legal Daily . He is alleged to have produced illegal air guns which he sold online in the coastal city of Ningbo. The report said he used online chatting tool QQ and instant messaging app WeChat to advertise and send the parcels in collaboration with a local delivery company, which was fined 300,000 yuan and suspended from trading as police continued their investigations. Hong Kong police probe syndicate suspected of smuggling air guns to mainland China to be modified into powerful weapons Zhou is accused of setting up the gun business with a friend named Ying, who used to work in the hardware industry, after the tofu shop closed because it was struggling to meet anti-pollution regulations. The disposal of waste water was thought to have been a particular problem as the tofu production process requires large quantities of water. The two are said to have downloaded weapon blueprints online and manufactured gun parts in local hardware workshops in Ningbo. Chinese customs ‘catch Hong Kong man with 22 air guns and thousands of pellets’ Zhou and Ying where among 10 suspects held by police. Another one of those detained was a delivery branch manager named Guo, who is accused of packaging and distributing the guns. The gang is accused of completing over 200 deals, including the sale of more than 10 high-pressure guns that could fire bullets at a velocity high enough to kill people. Air guns, which use compressed air or other gases to fire pallets or round balls, are banned in China if they are capable of inflicting fatal injuries on people. The sale of legal air guns is also regulated and requires a permit.