Report: 15,000 guns smuggled annually
22 July 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Research indicated on Thursday that some 10,000 to 15,000 illegal weapons are smuggled into the Netherlands each year, 80 percent of which originate from Portugal, Germany and Belgium.
22 July 2004
AMSTERDAM — Research indicated on Thursday that some 10,000 to 15,000 illegal weapons are smuggled into the Netherlands each year, 80 percent of which originate from Portugal, Germany and Belgium.
The research institute IVA and Tilburg University also said that the remainder of the illegal weapons smuggled across the Dutch border originated from former Eastern bloc nations.
The research tracked the logistics necessary to illegally manufacture a gun, to smuggle it into the Netherlands and then sell it here. Researchers noted the inventiveness that weapons traders applied to the task, news agency nu.nl reported.
Small and large-scale "importers" are necessary for the smuggling of weapons and the most important groups handle guns on a weekly basis, shipments of 30 to 50 guns that are sold via middlemen who are spread right across the Netherlands. The smaller traders handle shipments of five to 10 guns.
The illegal weapons that are seized in the Netherlands are often made in official, legal firearms factories. But the researchers said the illegal weapons traders can use forged order papers from non-existent foreign buyers to illegally sell weapons to the crime world.
Another method is to buy a starter pistol and convert it to a firearm that shoots live bullets. Researchers said this practice is employed on a large scale and that hundreds of Italian-made Tanfoglio starter pistols were converted in recent years in Portugal and shipped to the Netherlands and other European countries.
In Germany, a large market exists for second-hand and written-off guns which are first made unusable and sold as alarm guns or display weapons. But criminal groups are buying the weapons and converting them to their former uses.
The researchers said the number of firearms experts in the Netherlands is too restricted and urged for greater funding in
the training of firearms experts.
They also criticised the tracing and investigation of weapons smuggling, accusing police and the Public Prosecution Office (OM) of placing little importance on the investigations.
"Firearms are still being especially considered as a by-product of other criminal activities and not as a problem itself," they said.
Labour PvdA MP Peter van Heemst said Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner was not doing enough to prevent illegal weapon smuggling and urged him to take action.
He urged Donner to use the opportunity of the Netherlands presently holding the European Union Presidency to push through equivalent weapons trading and smuggling laws in EU member states.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news