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Raid exposes black market gun trade
Det-Sgt Gary Saunders with a seized sub-machinegun. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

pWA#39;s black market for stolen guns has been exposed after a $1 million drug raid uncovered two sub- machineguns and two men were jailed over an elaborate plot targeting the homes of dozens of sporting shooters across Perth. /p pAnd police figures released this week show 474 guns were stolen from licensed gun owners last year, including 22 rifles and 18 handguns taken during a burglary at the Bedfordale home of a licensed firearms dealer in December. /p p#34;There is a lot of evidence to show drug dealers have access to firearms, or actually have in their possession firearms,#34; Supt Jim Migro said. #34;All firearms would have a value on the black market.#34; /p pSupt Migro spoke on Tuesday, less than 24 hours before heavily armed tactical response group officers stormed a home in the northern suburb of Ridgewood and allegedly found 31-year-old Rebels bikie gang associate Simon Mark O#39;Meagher with a loaded 357 Magnum handgun. /p pRebels WA president Nick Martin said last night Mr O#39;Meagher was not an associate. /p pA subsequent search allegedly uncovered two homemade sub- machineguns capable of firing up to 600 bullets a minute, two modified rifles, a second handgun and an assortment of drugs, including 800g of methylamphetamine, 1.2kg of a cutting agent called MSM, 173g of ecstasy, 32g of heroin, 96g of cannabis and 161g of dexylamphetamine. /p pThe total street value of the drugs could exceed $1 million. Police seized a 2012 Hummer, a 2012 HSV Clubsport, a 2012 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a KTM trail bike, and are investigating whether other assets, including the Corinda Way home, can be frozen under asset confiscation laws. /p pAs police revealed the haul, Supreme Court Justice Lindy Jenkins jailed Darren Shane Casbolt, 39, and Brett Anthony Thompson, 32, for five years and four months each over a calculated and sophisticated burglary operation targeting the homes of licensed gun owners across Perth in 2011. /p pThe court was told Casbolt and Thompson scanned gun club websites to identify members and tracked down their addresses online. It is not known how many guns were stolen but the court was told 22 firearms and some ammunition was still missing. /p p#34;There is a real possibility the firearms which were not located will make their way into the hands of criminals,#34; Justice Jenkins said. Both men are eligible for parole. /p pState prosecutor Michael Cvetkoski said the men had been involved in planning the operation and searching for the details of gun club members. /p pThompson did not go into any of the homes, Casbolt admitted entering some and the crimes were committed to help a 19-year-old friend who owed a drug dealer money. That friend was jailed for more than four years for his role. /p pDet-Supt Migro said stolen guns were often traded on the black market, with many weapons being trafficked across State borders and in some cases overseas. He said WA Police were in talks with other Australian law enforcement agencies to improve reporting and tracking of stolen firearms. /p pMr O#39;Meagher has been charged with five counts of possessing a prohibited drug with intend to sell or supply, two counts of failing to ensure safekeeping of a firearm or ammunition, two counts of possessing stolen or unlawfully obtained property and one count each of possessing unlicensed ammunition, possessing a smoking utensil and possession of firearms without a licence. He was remanded in custody and is due to reappear in April. /p