A gun supplier from Birmingham who used a 3D printer and ammunition press to make viable weapons from parts ordered on the dark web has been jailed for 27 months.
Haroon Iqbal, 32, from Bramble Dell in Birmingham, made two orders for parts to be sent from the US.
Iqbal first requested internal parts of a Glock 17 from a seller, ordering it to arrive within a cover load of electronics and using a different identity.
The order was sent but intercepted on its arrival in the UK on 22 January 2022, and found to include the internal parts for the Glock.
Although the items weren’t illegal on their own, they were forensically marked by NCA officers to ensure they could be identified. When Iqbal collected them from an address in Birmingham on 24 January, NCA investigators were watching.
On 26 January, he requested a Glock 17 barrel and automatic rifle parts. This time he requested the parts were hidden within a toolbox.
US authorities organised for the toolbox without the parts to be sent to a second address in Birmingham.
Following the delivery on 28 February, NCA surveillance officers arrested Iqbal. A 3D printer and an ammunition press was recovered from his business premises. They also found the internal parts first sent to Iqbal in January which had the forensic markings.
The US-based seller was arrested by the US authorities, and his phone seized.
Messages found on that device, which had used the encrypted messaging service Signal, would later show that Iqbal had asked whether the seller had ever had a shipment seized, and requested that a Christmas card was added to the package as a decoy in order to make it look legitimate.
Iqbal had also instructed “just make sure it doesn’t look suspicious, no glaringly obvious gun parts visible as soon as you open.”
He also gave information on how to package the second load, saying: “Show the decoy and the parts that u need to put in. We’ll advise how to pack.” When sent a photo of the shipping label he said: “Bro are you feeling ok, who’s going to pay 65 to ship a 1 dollar item. Are you for real… now they’re definitely going to open it!”
Iqbal also provided a UK phone number for the package, texting: “The UK number you put on there… you should’ve asked me for one… if you don’t know something ask us what to put there, why are you making your own s**t up! I hope you haven’t posted this yet. You’re going to blow a good address if you have.”
Iqbal pleaded guilty to attempting to possess a firearm on 27th April 2022 at Birmingham Crown Court. He was sentenced at the same court today (26 May).
NCA operations manager Niall Conner said: “Haroon Iqbal spoke with supreme confidence to a gun supplier in the US, thinking he could avoid detection by using the dark web and an encrypted messaging service. However, he was unaware we were monitoring his every move.
“Our investigation has taken items including gun parts and a 3D printer out of circulation, which could have been used to create deadly weapons for use by organised crime groups.
“The supply and use of firearms has a devastating impact on public safety and are used in acts of intimidation and serious violence. We will continue our work to stop those who are intent on bringing illegal firearms to our streets.”
26 May 2022