Officers from the National Crime Agency’s Armed Operations Unit have arrested four men as part of a major investigation into the criminal supply of firearms to the north of England.
Three men were detained as armed officers moved in to stop a car in the Beech Road area of Tingley, West Yorkshire at around 3pm yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 22 April).
A handgun and ammunition was recovered from the scene.
Just after midnight a fourth man was held in the Redfearn Wood area of Rochdale, Greater Manchester.
The operation was assisted by officers from West Yorkshire Police and Greater Manchester Police.
All four men are now in custody and are being questioned by NCA investigators on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of firearms.
NCA regional head of investigations Shane Williams said:
“This was a significant operation which resulted in the recovery of a firearm and associated ammunition.
“We will continue to work closely with our partners to identify criminal organisations engaged in this type of activity as we have on this occasion with Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire Police.
“We know that criminal networks use firearms in their attempts to dominate communities through violence and intimidation. This is why cutting off that supply of guns is a priority for the NCA and the whole of UK law enforcement.”
The NCA’s National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime, published earlier this month, stated that firearms crime in the UK remains low compared with many other countries, but criminal gangs continue to use guns to protect or further their criminal enterprises.
The NCA’s Shane Williams added:
“To stop firearms getting into the wrong hands, UK law enforcement depends on intelligence about firearms access, supply and use.
“This often comes from the public, and I’d urge anyone who has information about illegally held firearms or ammunition to contact the police. Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org.”
Superintendent Danny Inglis of GMP’s Serious Organised Crime Group said:
“I’d like to thank our officers and partner agencies for this positive outcome and hope this reassures our residents in Rochdale that law enforcement is continuing to target those involved in serious crime.”