‘Sophisticated’ illegal gun factory is discovered on an industrial estate on the edge of market town
- National Crime Agency – dubbed ‘Britain’s FBI’ – swooped in Sussex this week
- Officers moved in after gunshots were heard and three men were arrested
- NCA chief says they have disrupted significant factory which supplied criminals
Criminals have been making guns at a ‘large-scale, sophisticated’ weapons factory hidden on an industrial estate in a Sussex market town, it emerged today.
The gun factory was uncovered in a warehouse describing itself as a gearbox repair business on an industrial estate in Hailsham, East Sussex.
Officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA), often described as Britain’s FBI, heard the sound of gunshots coming from the building before they arrested three men earlier this week.
Masked policemens outside an industrial estate unit in Sussex where a gun factory was found
This picture shows the inside of the Hailsham gun factory, hidden on an industrial estate
The NCA said one of the men was tasered during the raid, since which a forensic search of the site has been carried out.
The organisation’s Rob Hickinbottom said officers have found around 30 firearms in different stages of production, as well as templates and metal thought to be used to manufacture guns.
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He added that his officers believed they have disrupted a group which would have put lethal weapons in the hands of criminals and gangs.
Mr Hickinbottom said he understood that residents of the rural town would be shocked by the discovery, but said criminals seek out quiet industrial units to produce illegal weapons.
The NCA also released these images of ammunition found in the raid in East Sussex
Police have been at the site ever since, and confirmed they have also raided other properties
Mr Hickinbottom said: ‘Our investigation is continuing, and much of what we have discovered at this location will now be the subject of careful forensic analysis.
‘We suspect that this operation has disrupted a group that would appear to be involved in the criminal production of firearms.
‘As a result we have prevented a potentially large quantity of weapons from getting onto the black market and into the hands of criminals.
‘I would also like to recognise the superb support and assistance we have had from Sussex Police throughout this operation – their contribution to this investigation has been and will continue to be crucial to its success.’
Officers say the factory was ‘large-scale’ and they have recovered weapons and ammunition
Greg Akehurst, 29, of no fixed address, and Mark Kinman, 63, of Hailsham, were both charged with possessing a firearm.
Kyle Wood, 30, of Littlehampton, was charged with the same offence as well as possessing ammunition.
The trio were remanded in custody and are due to appear at Kingston Crown Court on September 17.
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