The National Police and officials of the Tax Agency have dismantled the first illegal 3D weapons manufacturing workshop in Spain after an investigation carried out by the General Information Commission, the Provincial Information Brigade of Tenerife and Customs Surveillance of the Tax Agency, which has led to the arrest, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, of a person for his alleged participation in crimes of illegal possession of weapons and deposit of explosives.
During the searches, two 3D printers, 11 spools of filament for 3D printers and numerous computer devices used for manufacturing were intervened. In addition, 19 3D printed handgun frames, nine magazines, two silencers, two unnumbered handgun slides, two barrel rifling pieces, two firing pins, a replica of an Airsoft AR-15 assault rifle, a carbine with telescopic sight, several metal tubes to make cannons, a holographic sight, a plastic mold to make frames and various pieces of handgun (rods, sights, sights, triggers, springs, hammer …). The agents also located two taser pistols, five knives, a machete, a katana, and various objects with supremacist symbols (two flags representing a trisquel and a pistol holster with the emblem of the German National Socialist Army).
Also, and of special importance for the researchers, was the detection of more than 30 manuals, including a “terrorist manual”, on urban guerrillas, military, homemade explosives, on the use and handling of firearms and firearms. manufacture of firearms through 3D printing.
Finally, different chemical substances that could be used in the elaboration of explosive devices such as black powder, aluminum, nitrate, acetone, etc. were used, which is why the intervention of a TEDAX-CBRN team was required for their neutralization and a team of Canine Guides specialized in the detection of this type of substances.
The operation, carried out on September 14, 2020, has been directed by the Investigating Court number THREE of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which has kept summary secret to date.
First illegal 3D weapons workshop in Spain
The investigation began when agents specialized in the matter detected the existence of a person who, illegally, made purchases over the Internet of essential parts of firearms and explosive substances.
After analyzing all the information obtained, the corresponding operative device was established, practicing four searches in the city of Tenerife. When the agents entered one of the premises they could see how one of the 3D printers was operational and fully operational. A handgun frame was being printed which was almost finished.
The detainee also had a large number of fundamental pieces, all of them complementary for their assembly to the frame manufactured in 3D. In this way, the arrested man could fully manufacture a short firearm.
An Inspector from the General Information Commission leads the European fight against emerging crimes
Additive manufacturing – known as three-dimensional 3D printing – is a disruptive technology that exponentially increases the danger of the proliferation of firearms, facilitating access to them by criminal or terrorist groups. In October 2019, in Germany, a terrorist attack was committed against a Jewish synagogue, in which other weapons and explosives, a rifle manufactured with a 3D printer was used.
The General Information Commissariat is at the forefront of the fight against these new criminal modalities and currently an Inspector of that Commissariat representing Spain leads a working group of European police, within the EMPACT FIREARMS platform, dedicated to combating emerging threats in this area and, specifically, the response to the threat posed by the three-dimensional printing of firearms. Among the activities planned in this area, an International Congress dedicated to Firearms and Emerging Threats in the XXI Century is scheduled to be held at the Canillas Police Complex (Madrid) of the National Police.
Likewise, the Customs and Special Taxes Department of the Tax Agency, through Customs Surveillance, co-directs, within the framework of the EMPACT FIREARMS platform, the operational action on illicit arms trafficking through parcels. This operation highlights the synergies created with the joint work between customs police forces and the Ministry of the Interior, and that Spain promotes within the EU through the Action on illicit arms trafficking of the Customs Cooperation Group of the Council of the Union led by the Department of Customs and Special Taxes during the period 2020-2021.
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