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Ten handguns seized in raids; Six arrested as police target nine homes in dawn swoop.

Byline: KATE BROOKS

SIX men have been arrested across Merseyside after a series of dawn raids yesterday to seize illegal firearms.

Blank firing guns, which can be converted to fire live bullets, were being sold over the internet and distributed in the UK, where they are against the law.

The arrested men, aged between 21 and 56 years old, were questioned at police stations before being charged, bailed or released.

Ten handguns were seized, including six from a single address in Wallasey, as well as a stungun.

Acting Detective Sergeant Steve Christian, from Wirral CID, is leading the investigation. He said: ``These weapons are illegal in the UK and, on behalf of Merseyside Police, I want to send a clear message to those buying the weapons that we will not tolerate the possession of illegal firearms. ''

Following the raids, involving 70 officers, a 27-year-old from Norris Green, a 56-year-old from Wallasey and a 28-year-old from Birkenhead were all bailed on firearms offences.

A 29-year-old from Tranmere was cautioned about possession of a stun gun and a 21-year-old from Birkenhead was also cautioned for firearms offences. A 36 and 18-year-old were released without charge after being questioned.

DS Christian added: ``Whether or not these weapons were intended to be converted to fire live ammunition, they remain extremely dangerous.

``We will continue to target those who buy them, and those who may be selling them on, and will work to ensure that the weapons are taken off our streets. ''

A hydroponics system, which police think had been used for the cultivation of cannabis, was also recovered, along with what police believe are several cannabis plants.

The guns that were recovered had been bought on the internet from France and then sold on to people in Britain where the weapons are classed as Section Five firearms, which are illegal. Nine homes were raided in the early hours of yesterday in Wallasey, Birkenhead, Formby, Southport and Bootle and specialist officers were expected to find further weapons.

Anyone with information about firearms is urged by Merseyside Police to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

CAPTION(S):

DS Steve Christian with the guns found in the raids
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 12, 2004
Words:361
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