Two individuals have been handed prison sentences for their involvement in a groundbreaking case involving the production and distribution of firearms manufactured using a 3D printer.
Sibusiso Moyo and Christopher Gill were found guilty in what is believed to be the first prosecution of its kind, highlighting the increasing challenges posed by modern technology in law enforcement.
During raids conducted in Bradford and Hull, law enforcement authorities discovered homemade guns, along with ammunition and gun-making equipment.
The weapons, described as hybrid 3D printed guns with metal components, were intended for use in organised criminal activities.
The investigation took a significant turn when officers apprehended Majeed Rehman, an associate of Moyo and Gill, on May 17 of last year. Upon searching his vehicle, authorities discovered a homemade automatic sub-machine gun, along with a magazine and bullets concealed in a supermarket bag-for-life in the car’s rear footwell.
Gill, later identified as the person seen entering the BMW with the bag, was linked to this alarming discovery.
Further inquiries led by the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit (YH ROCU) revealed two additional almost-complete FGC9 firearms hidden in Gill’s loft.
Subsequently, Moyo was arrested, and evidence emerged indicating that he had been manufacturing FGC9 guns at his residence in Hull. Moyo had acquired two 3D printers and various component parts to facilitate the production of these lethal weapons.
Law enforcement officers also seized a range of tools and parts, including springs and screws, that were consistent with instructions found in an online manual for constructing firearms.
Additionally, videos and images depicting the firearms at different stages of assembly were discovered, with the footage recorded inside residential premises, such as Moyo’s kitchen and garage, as well as Gill’s home address.
Forensic experts from the Royal Armouries in Leeds examined the seized items and verified their functionality as viable firearms, providing crucial evidence for the prosecution.
Today, in Sheffield Crown Court, the sentencing hearing concluded with Moyo, aged 41, from Elloughton Grove, Hull, being sentenced to 18 years in prison. Moyo faced charges of illegally manufacturing a firearm and a separate offence related to identity fraud.
Meanwhile, Gill, aged 35, from Dick Lane, Tyersal, Bradford, was sentenced to 13 years for illegally manufacturing a firearm. Rehman, aged 46, from Central Avenue, Little Horton, Bradford, who was found guilty of possession of ammunition and conspiracy to transfer a prohibited firearm, is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date.
Speaking after the sentencing, Senior Investigating Officer Det Chf Inspector Andrew Howard of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit (YH ROCU) expressed the gravity of the situation. He stated, “We have witnessed the tragic and devastating consequences caused by criminally-held firearms used by offenders. Today, two men involved in the manufacture, supply, and distribution of privately-manufactured 3D printed automatic weapons have received significant sentences for their roles.”
The investigation uncovered that Moyo and Gill meticulously followed detailed instructions while systematically procuring the necessary items to construct these deadly firearms and their ammunition. Their manufacturing process demonstrated a high level of sophistication, resulting in functional weapons designed solely to be supplied to other organised criminals with the intent to cause harm.
The successful outcome of this complex investigation, supported by the National Crime Agency (NCA), highlights the emerging threat posed by
3D printed guns. The investigative team was praised for their professionalism, recognised by the court during the trial. These dedicated officers consistently put themselves in harm’s way to safeguard communities from dangerous offenders wielding firearms.
The Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit, satisfied with the sentences imposed by the court, remains steadfast in its determination to ensure public safety by relentlessly pursuing those involved in the production of these lethal weapons.
Individuals who choose to manufacture such firearms will face the full force of the law and should expect to receive lengthy prison terms.
Matt Perfect, Operations Manager at the National Crime Agency (NCA) National Firearms Targeting Centre, emphasised the agency’s commitment to tackling the illegal firearms trade. He stated, “Gun crime in the UK remains relatively low compared to mainland Europe and is among the lowest in the world. However, the demand for firearms in the criminal market persists, making the suppression of their availability a national priority for the NCA and UK law enforcement.”
The NCA collaborates closely with domestic and international partners to combat criminals involved in firearms-related offences and disrupt the supply routes into and within the country.
As law enforcement agencies continue to grapple with emerging threats associated with technology, this landmark prosecution underscores the need for ongoing vigilance and collaborative efforts to protect society from the dangers posed by 3D printed weapons.