Published on: 06 May 2022
An international operation involving law enforcement authorities from Poland and the Netherlands has resulted in the takedown of a gang of gunrunners accused of smuggling an arsenal of weapons into Poland using parcel delivery companies.
On 25 April, Europol supported a series of actions carried out simultaneously in the Netherlands and in Poland, as a result of which 82 individuals were arrested (81 in Poland, one in the Netherlands) and 250 firearms seized. Some 300 locations were searched across Poland, alongside two in the Netherlands in Beverwijk and Heemskerk.
Mail order gun service
The members of the gang arrested, all Polish nationals, mostly belonged to one same family. They have been under investigation since August 2020.
The family members residing in the Netherlands, which included the gang’s ringleader, were in charge of acquiring firearms of various types – both legal and illegal – across Europe. These firearms were then stored in the Netherlands, and when needed sent to the family members in Poland for them to convert the deactivated weapons into live-firing ones in illegal workshops.
The firearms were advertised for sale on Polish online marketplaces as ‘antique’ or ‘deactivated’ ones for which the sale is authorised. The illegal, live-firing weapons would then be offered for sale to trusted clients.
Once sold, these weapons were sent via parcel delivery companies to strawmen for further distribution in Poland or directly to the clients who purchased the firearms. The organised crime group also supplied ammunition alongside the weapons.
Up to the action day, this gang of gunrunners is suspected to have distributed several hundred illegal firearms using this modus operandi.
International police cooperation coordinated by Europol was central in bringing to justice the perpetrators who were located in different European countries.
Europol brought together the Dutch and Polish investigators who have since been working closely together with specialists from Europol’s European Serious Organised Crime Centre to uncover the magnitude of the criminal activity and establish a joint strategy.
A Europol mobile office was deployed to Poland on the action to facilitate the extensive exchange of information and evidence and support with the analysis of the seized electronic devices.
The following law enforcement authorities took part in this investigation:
- Netherlands: National Police (Politie)
- Poland: Central Criminal Bureau of Investigation (Centralne Biuro Śledecze Policji), regional police forces
- Europol: European Serious Organised Crime Centre