Gun supplier used 3D printer to make weapons for gangs
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 January 22, 2022, and found to include the internal parts for the Glock.
Although the items were not illegal on their own, they were forensically marked by National Crime Agency (NCA) officers to ensure they could be identified. When Iqbal collected them from an address in Birmingham two days later, investigators were watching, and the parts were recovered when Iqbal was arrested the following month.
Shortly after dispatching the first order, the US-based seller was arrested by US Homeland Security agents, 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”. From the point of the seller’s arrest, Iqbal was unknowingly communicating with US investigators.
On January 26, he requested a Glock 17 barrel and automatic rifle parts. This time he requested the parts were hidden within a toolbox.
He gave information to the officer 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 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 without the barrel or rifle parts to be sent to a second address in Birmingham.
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.
Iqbal pleaded guilty to attempting to possess a firearm last month at Birmingham Crown Court. He was sentenced at the same court on Thursday (May 26).
NCA operations manager Niall Conner said: “Haroon 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.”