Investigations from the police unit Task Force East have discovered that many of the illegal weapons that end up in the hands of gangs stem from older, upstanding citizens without a criminal record.
The task force is currently involved in three larger cases. One involves 40 weapons being stolen from the Antvorskov military barracks in 2009, for which four men have been arrested. Another involves a 69-year-old man from Odsherred who was convicted earlier this month for being part of ten weapons exchanges. Another man in that case, a 64-year-old from Grenaa, is suspected in engaging in a similar number of weapons transactions. The third large case involves a 53-year-old man from Greve, who is charged with selling three 9mm pistols to members of the Bandidos gang, which they used in their conflict against the Black Cobra gang. That case goes to court tomorrow.
Police have indicated that a common thread amongst many of the cases is that those involved are gun enthusiasts or have been members of the Danish National Guard or various shooting clubs, although police said that the weapons seized have not come directly from the clubs.
”The situation revolves around a number of men who have access to weapons, can obtain them and then sell them on to the gangs,” Magnus Andresen, an inspector for Task Force East, told Politiken newspaper. “We devoted our attention on the supply routes and that has uncovered the Danish market. It has been a surprise for us because we initially believed that the weapons mostly came from the foreign markets.”
The justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), was pleased with the increase in weapons seizures and admits that illegal weapons in Denmark have become a serious problem. He said illegal weapons units would be expanded.
“We are stepping up efforts against organised crime by establishing Task Force West in Jutland. This method has proven to be right tool to get to grips with the often complicated criminal networks,” Bødskov told Politiken. “It’s a very serious crime and I am pleased with the efforts of Task Force East.”
The number of illegal pistols and machine guns seized by Task Force East has increased dramatically in the last two years. After seizing 50 weapons in 2010, that number shot up to 337 in 2011. Some 350 weapons have already been recovered by the unit so far in 2012.