DETECTIVES say they uncovered a grenade launcher, an M20 machine gun, a gas propelled anti-personnel mine and a “masterkey” 870 shotgun among a cache of other weapons during a raid at the Charlestown home of a man accused of illegally importing firearms, firearm parts and ammunition from overseas.
Anthony Raymond Edwards, 49, of E K Avenue, appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Thursday charged with 32 offences, including 11 counts of intentionally importing prohibited goods without approval and a string of firearm and ammunition offences.
The firearms were allegedly seized during a joint operation between Australian Border Force (ABF) officers and detectives from the State Crime Command’s Drug and Firearm Squad, who raided Mr Edwards’ home on Wednesday morning.
Mr Edwards did not enter any pleas to the firearm or importation charges or apply for bail and it was formally refused. The matter was adjourned until December 20.
Mr Edwards is accused of importing the prohibited firearm parts and accessories between August, 2016 and October 11 this year, but the vast majority of offences allegedly occurred during a five-week span, according to court documents.
The investigation began when border intelligence officers identified a number of online purchases of firearms-related items being sent to a home at Charlestown. ABF officers then intercepted a number of packages, allegedly containing firearm parts, at the Sydney international mail gateway.
The ABF and detectives then raided Mr Edwards’ home on Wednesday morning, allegedly seizing five long-arm firearms, two sound-and-flash grenades, one gas propelled anti-personal mine, seven gas-propelled grenade-type canisters, various calibre of ammunition, body armour, camouflage gear and a hydroponic set-up with five cannabis plants.
Police allege that, during a short period of time, Mr Edwards had purchased weapons on 11 occasions from overseas and had been “active in his endeavours to import these items and conceal them from authorities”, according to court documents.
ABF Investigations Superintendent Garry Low said the seizure highlighted the commitment the ABF and other agencies had to getting potentially dangerous weapons off the street.
“We have significant intelligence capabilities to detect online purchases of firearms and accessories and through our investigations we have located a number of other serious weapons,” Superintendent Low said.
“People need to be aware of the regulations around importing these items into Australia and that the ABF will investigate and take action against anyone found to be illicitly bringing them into the country.”
NSW Police Drug and Firearms Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Martin Fileman, said that the unauthorised and illicit possession of firearms are a concern for law enforcement.
“We’ve seen through recent investigations that there is an illegal market in sourcing firearms, replicas, and related paraphernalia, as well as equipment and parts to manufacture firearms locally,” Det Supt Fileman said.
“Even if a firearm is incomplete or won’t fire, the simple fact is: if it looks like a real gun, under the law, it is a gun, and we will lay charges as such.
“Just one firearm in the wrong hands could be fatal and we will continue to target anyone who illegally possesses, supplies or manufactures firearms in NSW.”