Following two recent finds of military-grade AK-47 rifles in the hands of young suspects in Victoria, Australia, a former Border Force commissioner estimates there could be hundreds, even up to 1,000 of these weapons in the country.
“That goes across those that are dormant or in collections. And probably some in the hands of crooks,” he said, The Herald Sun reported.
Roman Quaedvlieg told the Herald Sun that AK-47s, which can ‘punch out several hundred rounds a minute’ and don’t require training to be used, can be brought into Australia legally. He says that though it’s also possible they can be imported illegally, less are brought into Australia this way because they can be detected on X-rays.
“You can bring them in legally—there are certain steps you have to go through. You have to get a licence and the weapon has got to be made inoperable,” he told the Herald Sun. “But that is easily reversed.”
“If they are diverted, which is a euphemism for stolen or sold on the black market. Then reversing that procedure is quite easy,” he added.
He says the AK-47s, which were originally built in the Soviet Union in the late 1940s, are regarded as an iconic military weapon with many collectors in Australia. They are very durable and through the 50s and 60s, it was easy to bring these guns into Australia.
On Aug. 14, police arrested an 18-year-old male who was allegedly in possession of an AK-47 in a raid at a property in Melbourne’s southeast suburb Oakleigh East. Police also found and seized cannabis and an immitation firearm at the property.
— Victoria Police (@VictoriaPolice) August 14, 2018
This came after police retrieved another AK-47 from a family home on Aug. 10. That weapon was found alongside imitation guns during a series of raids across ten properties in Cranbourne, Pakenham, Dandenong, and Narre Warren South, according to the Herald Sun.
The police raids were prompted by a number of recent armed carjackings on July 26 and Aug. 7, and recent home invasions in Melbourne’s southeast. The AK-47 will now be tested by ballistics experts for its authenticity and to check whether the weapon was used in any prior crimes including the recent offences.
In the raids, police arrested 14 suspects in Melbourne’s southeast aged between 14-26 who were all still living at home with their parents. The teenagers were of African, Asian, and Middle Eastern backgrounds, and seven of the 14 have since been charged with a number of offences, The Herald Sun reported.
Det Insp Shayne Pannell said today’s arrests are the result of ongoing work into a number of alleged serious incidents in the south eastern suburbs over the past two weeks. More → https://t.co/97HmPXH3Yn pic.twitter.com/ESB6dCdGJY
— Victoria Police (@VictoriaPolice) August 10, 2018
Victoria Police Detective Inspector Shayne Pannell said police will focus on finding the source of the AK-47s, as well as figuring out how the youths have been communicating with each other. Police have established that they know each other through school, sports, or family groups.
“Just by the nature of the offending and going into peoples homes when they’re there is causing fear, unnecessary fear,” he told The Australian. “The weapons are being used at this stage to enhance that fear.”
Pannell added that the “million-dollar question” is why these youths are resorting to violent carjackings, burglaries and home invasions.