Customs Blitz on Mail-Order Weapons Trade

Article excerpt

A CRACK squad of customs officers is being drafted into the Midlands to tackle the illegal trade in mail-order weapons and pornography.

The move follows a decision by Parcel Force - Britain's largest international delivery service - to transfer its depot from London to Coventry in September.

And it comes in the wake of rising fears about the number of deadly weapons which are freely available on the Internet.

Many American companies now sell martial arts weapons which can be posted to the UK.

The terrifying range includes a kubotan - a cylinder lined with sharp spikes, a balisong - a hidden blade and a kyoketsu shoge - a length of wire fastened to a hooked knife.

They can be sold legally in America and suppliers are not breaking any laws by advertising them and selling them to British customers.

The weapons can be easily ordered using postal orders or credit cards and there are no age restrictions for buyers. But it is illegal to import them into Britain.

The new Parcel Force depot in Coventry will receive an average of 8,000 to 10,000 packages every day from all over the world. It will create up to 600 new jobs.

Birmingham HM Customs and Excise spokesman Mark Powell said: "We are very concerned about the growing trade in illegal weapons. …