More than 10,000 assault rifles, 400 howitzer shells, grenades, and anti-aerial machine guns — likely intended for sale to terrorists and criminals — have been seized in a joint raid by Spanish police and Europol.
Video footage released by Europol on Tuesday shows the massive cache of weapons, which the Spanish National Police seized in Bilbao, Cantabria and Gerona in January as part of operation Portu, which was supported by Europol. The haul was so great it took weeks to catalogue.The European policing agency said in a statement that there was a “significant risk” of the weapons “being acquired by organised crime groups and terrorists.”
The investigation stemmed from the weapons used in the terrorist attack on a Jewish museum in Brussels in 2014.
“Due to their characteristics, their calibre and their readiness for reactivation, the seized weapons had an easy journey in the black market and posed a significant risk of being acquired by organised crime groups and terrorists,” Europol said.
The stash contained deactivated firearms which were largely purchased legally, and were later reactivated. Firearms found at the scene were ready to be repaired and transformed back into working weapons.
Five people have been arrested and €80,000 ($85,000) seized along with the weapons, Spanish police reported.
The crime group was using a sports shop as a front for its illegal firearms distribution center. A workshop used to reactivate the firearms was also discovered, as well as equipment to create forged certificates of reactivation.
Published Mar 14, 2017 — 1:25
Published Mar 14, 2017 — 9:49