58 arrested, 40 weapons seized as Chinese police crack international arms network

Raids by 16 forces, staged after trial of ringleader earlier this year, also yields hand grenades, air rifles and 20,000 bullets

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 November, 2017, 3:28pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 November, 2017, 3:28pm

Chinese police have arrested a further 58 suspects linked to an international arms network following a year-long investigation and the trial earlier this year of its ringleader, mainland media reported.

The arrests came after police staged raids in 16 cities across the mainland, which also resulted in the seizure of 40 military-grade weapons, 20,000 lead bullets, 14 air rifles, hand grenades, gun manufacturing equipment and related paraphernalia, news website Thepaper.cn reported on Thursday.

The investigation was jointly led by police in the southern China cities of Liuzhou and Shenzhen, although the raids involved officers from 16 cities across the country, the report said, citing a statement released on Tuesday by Liuzhou police.

It did not specify when the raids were carried out, but said that several foreign nationals were among those arrested.

The gang is understood to have bought gun parts from overseas suppliers and trafficked them around China using courier services. Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, was identified as the main point of entry, while Liuzhou, in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, was the principal distribution hub.

Express delivery firm tips off police about illegal gun market racket in China

The investigation was started when police in Shenzhen discovered 14 packages containing illegal weapons parts – all for delivery to Liuzhou addresses – in September 2016. The joint operation began in January this year.

Police initially struggled to identify any of the suspects as they arranged for parcels to be delivered only to remote locations where their activities could not easily be monitored, the report said.

The breakthrough came with the arrest of the gang’s ringleader, a 30-year-old man surnamed Wu, and three of his accomplices in a surprise raid on a weapons storage facility in Liuzhou on April 18.

Chinese tofu maker ‘turned to arms dealing’ after business was forced to close down

At his trial, Wu, a native of Guangxi, confessed to setting up the network in 2015, and recruiting several of his friends and relatives. He also revealed the addresses of his customers, which enabled police to round up weapons that had already been sold, the report said.