Two south Cumbria brothers were involved in the delivery of a deadly pistol and ammunition to their family farm believing a Covid-19 vaccination conspiracy would turn the general public into ‘unthinking beings’. Carlisle Crown Court heard how 24-year-old Harry Wilson sourced, ordered and paid in cryptocurrency for the Glock 19 pistol.
But law enforcement agencies in the United States examined a parcel on August 23 and found it to contain the pistol – along with a Glock magazine, 50 rounds of 9mm ammunition and an operation manual. This was contained within an innocent-looking electronic device. As a result the National Crime Agency, which leads the UK’s fight to cut serious and organised crime, arranged for a dummy package to be sent in its place. On August 25, Harry’s brother, 27-year-old Ashley Wilson, signed for the parcel. He took it into the main building of his family farm at Helsington, near Kendal, and then to a chalet on the site.Covert recording equipment within it captured the brothers’ conversation as it was unwrapped. Ashley was heard to say: “This is good, innit; order another,” which a judge concluded was his ‘excited and immature response to the weapon’. Prosecutor Chloe Fordham told the court: “The evidence from the phones seized from the defendants shows that they both held extreme views about there being a conspiracy by the elite to have the general population vaccinated against Covid in order to infect them with a substance which would kill the God particle in humans and turn them into unthinking beings.
Despite strict laws on private gun ownership, U.K. officials are seeing a rise in illegal firearms entering the country. Nearly 900 illegal weapons seized over the past three years – including the three guns taken in the November operation – originated in the United States. “What we are seeing is an upward trend of guns coming out of gun stores in America and the parcel service is being used to ship them to the U.K. and into criminal hands,” said Dewfall. The U.K. is already grappling with its highest recorded level of knife crime in a decade, with around 46,000 incidents last year alone. British officials worry what could happen if more criminals are able to swap knives for guns.
In the year ending March 2019, the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics recorded around 9,800 criminal offenses involving firearms, which represented a 4% increase on the previous year. Just last month, for the first time in memory, an officer in the U.K. was shot dead inside a police station.
While British government officials say the number of guns entering the country every year from the U.S., specifically, hasn’t fluctuated, American officials have noticed an increase in attempts to export them.
“In 2015, after detecting a significant increase in U.S. firearms seizures destined for the U.K., the HSI London office partnered with the Metropolitan Police Service and the (National Crime Agency) to develop a proactive firearms smuggling operation,” said James Mancuso, the previous Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) London Attaché. “For example, two defendants convicted of attempting to receive a semi-automatic handgun had extensive criminal histories, to include fatally stabbing a rival gang member at a busy train station.”
HSI’s close work with U.K. law enforcement has resulted in over 100 arrests, and may have saved many lives. “One of the enforcement operations uncovered a sinister plot by a student in the advanced planning phase of a mass casualty event,” Mancuso told CBS News, referring to Kyle Davies, who was convicted in September 2019 of planning a mass shooting and sentenced to 16 years in prison.”Investigators also prevented three terrorist plots involving groups that harbor extremist ideologies with admitted plans to attack innocent civilians,” Mancuso added. But many of the guns intended for use in plots like these begin their journey to the U.K. as legal purchases at U.S. gun stores.
The trans-Atlantic operation to intercept the firearms involved multiple U.S. law enforcement agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations working alongside British partners, including the National Crime Agency (NCA), the U.K.’s equivalent of the FBI. Despite the ongoing cooperation and successes in preventing the flow of illegal guns from the U.S. into the U.K., British officials don’t see the problem going away as long as there’s demand. “We understand that there is an array of weapons that could be made available to criminal groups in the U.S.,” says Perfect. “So, it’s a rich marketplace for criminal groups.” But one criminal group won’t be in the market for illegal guns anytime soon. The gang arrested in November were convicted on Monday and given a total of 50 years in prison between them.