With Europe on tenterhooks over the threat of terrorist attacks, a shock news report in Portugal has revealed that there are neighbourhoods in Lisbon where Uzi machine guns and Kalashnikov rifles are readily on sale.
These peripheral areas are hotbeds for illegal arms trading, explains Diário de Notícias. “Everything is on sale” from sawn-off shotguns to weapons of warfare that could be worth €30,000 on the black market.
In May this year, the PSP led a raid in search of illegal armaments and “among the haul found a ‘heavy’ surprise: a Swiss-made Sig Sauer submachine gun” which was being hunted elsewhere for having been used in a crime.
As DN explained, this “weapon of warfare” is favoured by crack police units.
The paper’s source refused to say where exactly the machine gun had been used, “for safety reasons” – but it was just one aspect of a haul that included sawn-off shotguns, Israeli-made Uzi’s and “some Kalashnikov rifles like those used in the terrorist attacks in Paris”.
Portugal’s black market – though small in comparison with other European countries – has its roots in Spain, adds the paper. Dealers tend to bring weapons here for onward sale, and police are particularly concerned about the number of so-called airsoft and paintball guns that are ‘transformed’ to become lethal weapons.
With gun seizures now reaching an average of 24 per day throughout Portugal, the capital’s PSP conducted two new ‘raids’ last week, focusing on the outlying boroughs of Loures and Amadora.
“No official source admitted publicly that these actions were related to Europe’s terrorist alert but the fact is that the concern in finding arms has powered police operations in bairros,” stresses DN, and “routine roadside checks of drivers” are now paying particular attention to this aspect.
The news comes just a day since national tabloid Correio da Manhã ran with the headline that frontier police were on standby after being alerted to the possible approach of two cars, including a grey Ford Mondeo, carrying three men armed with AK47s.
The alert came last Wednesday from authorities in France.
One of the cars was said to be in the name of a 39-year-old Moroccan who had been arrested in Brussels the day before. But the alert transpired to be ‘a false alarm’.
Thought to be enroute for Spain/Portugal, a source for the GNR told CM that “nothing was detected, and as far as we know, Spain has also found nothing”.
Border patrols nonetheless remain on heightened standby while elsewhere in Europe Brussels is in lockdown for a third day.