“Just make sure it doesn’t look suspicious"
Haroon Iqbal, aged 32, of Birmingham, was jailed for 27 months after he used a 3D printer and ammunition press to make weapons from parts ordered on the dark web.
He was caught by undercover investigators after making two orders for parts to be sent from the US.
Using a different identity, Iqbal first ordered internal parts of a Glock 17. He asked for the package to arrive within a cover load of electronics.
The order was sent but intercepted upon its arrival in the UK on January 22, 2022. Although the items weren’t illegal on their own, they were forensically marked by NCA officers to ensure they could be identified.
Officers watched Iqbal collect them from an address in Birmingham.
Meanwhile, the US-based seller was arrested by Homeland Security agents and his phone was seized.
Encrypted messages showed Iqbal asking whether the seller had ever had a shipment intercepted. He also told the seller:
“Just make sure it doesn’t look suspicious, no glaringly obvious gun parts visible as soon as you open.”
Iqbal made another order on January 26, requesting a Glock 17 barrel and automatic rifle parts. But this time he was speaking to an undercover officer.
This time he asked for the parts to be hidden within a toolbox.
Iqbal instructed: “Show the decoy and the parts that you need to put in. We’ll advise how to pack.”
When sent a photo of the shipping label, he added:
“Bro are you feeling okay? Who’s going to pay £65 to ship a one 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.”
US authorities organised for the toolbox to be sent to a second address in Birmingham, without the weapon parts.
Following the delivery on February 28, NCA surveillance officers arrested Iqbal.
The phone with the number used on the parcel was found in his car, and officers seized a 3D printer and an ammunition press from his business premises. Officers also found the internal parts first sent to Iqbal in January which had the forensic markings.
At Birmingham Crown Court, Iqbal pleaded guilty to attempting to possess a firearm.
He was jailed for 27 months.
NCA operations manager Niall Conner said:
“Iqbal spoke with supreme confidence to someone he thought was a seasoned gun supplier in the US, giving detailed instructions to ensure he would receive the orders to the UK.
“His plans were stopped when US authorities arrested his contact and took over communication with Iqbal as he sought to arrange another delivery.
“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.”