British troops are smuggling guns and drugs into the UK and Europe and selling them on to criminal gangs, a former soldier from the Midlands has claimed
The ex-serviceman said it was “mega-easy” to bring back weapons from Iraq and Afghanistan and said some soldiers had become adept at hiding weapons and shipping them back from the frontline.
Handguns are brought back inside field radios and tool boxes – while grenades are hidden inside tank gun barrels for collection on arrival in Britain or Europe, he said
The crooked soldiers also concealed weapons in the fuel tanks of armoured vehicles and inside wheels to avoid detection.
“A lot of weapons get back to the UK, but some end up in military bases in countries like Germany and are then sold to European criminal gangs,’’ said the former Midlands serviceman.
“It’s mega-easy to smuggle them back. The military will say that this is isolated, or that the systems in place are 100 per cent safe – but that isn’t the case.
“Smuggling goes on a lot because it would take days to search everything and the military simply don’t have the time or manpower to do it.
“It’s the system that’s wrong – just like MPs’ expenses. If the system can be abused it will be abused and this will carry on if things are not tightened up.’’
He said many of the smuggled arms were offered for sale by crooked Iraqi cops.
The former serviceman – who did not want to be named – claimed: “The lads would never risk smuggling weapons in their kitbags as they know they will get searched.
“But if anything is found in a vehicle or a container there’s no way of tracing it back to any individual soldier.
“It’s mainly handguns being brought back, because a rifle would have to be broken down and split up. If any part of the whole rifle is intercepted then the weapon is useless.
“Having said that, British military weapons and ammunition go missing all the time and where do you think they end up?”
A Birmingham soldier who served in Iraq was jailed for seven years in 2006 for handling a stolen rifle.
L/Cpl James Piotrowski, from Northfield, pleaded guilty to possessing and handling the SA80 after another soldier stole it from a barracks in London.
The soldier, who served for three months in Iraq with the Irish Guards, had been at the centre of a manhunt in Birmingham when he went missing from his barracks in November 2004.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: ‘“This is a serious issue and we have a huge responsibility to stop military personnel from abusing the position of trust they are in.
“There are procedures and processes in place to stop this from happening and they are fully aware of the rules.
“When personnel return from theatre (war zones) there is a system in place that replicates that of Revenue and Customs for anyone coming into the UK.”