A man has been found guilty of helping an international gun runner to smuggle dozens of handguns into Britain on commercial transatlantic flights.
Over a six-month period gun runner Steven Greenoe, 37, – an American who lived in Shrewsbury and is currently awaiting sentence in the US – repeatedly crossed the Atlantic to purchase weapons to sell on to the criminal underworld for a huge profit. He broke the guns down to their component parts and smuggled them into the UK in his luggage.
Greenoe’s accomplice, Steven Cardwell, 31, of Aintree, Liverpool, was found guilty at Liverpool crown court on Thursday of three charges of conspiracy to import, sell and possess prohibited firearms with intent to enable another person to endanger life, following a four-week trial.
He bowed his head in the dock as the jury foreman delivered the verdicts. His family gasped and several sobbed.
The jurors were unable to reach verdicts on the allegations against a second man, Neil Copplestone, 32, of Ormskirk, Lancashire, who faces the same charges, and they were discharged. Neil Flewitt QC said the prosecution would seek a retrial. Copplestone was bailed until a later date when a timetable for any new proceedings will be set.
Cardwell will be sentenced on Friday. Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Richardson, head of the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, described Cardwell as Greenoe’s “business director on this side of the pond”.
“Effectively, he was the conduit between Greenoe and criminals within the UK,” he said.
The court heard that Greenoe would fly from Manchester Airport to his home town of Raleigh, North Carolina, where, on 15 separate occasions between February and July 2010, he purchased 81 guns, mostly Glock and Ruger 9mm handguns, at assorted shops.
One of the handguns was used in a fatal shooting and others were used in drive-by shootings.
Greenoe bought 81 firearms from gun shops in North Carolina, and some of them were smuggled and used in serious criminal offences in the UK. The prosecution said that most, if not all, the firearms purchased by him were intended for or are now in the hands of criminals in the UK, where he lived with his English wife.
Security staff at Raleigh-Durham airport in North Carolina found a cache of 16 weapons in Greenoe’s luggage when he was stopped while in transit on 25 July 2010.
The trial also heard that undercover police officers in Liverpool bought three pistols linked to Greenoe for £3,600 each. Greenoe had paid £300 per gun in the US.
Cartridges found at a shooting in Manchester matched guns bought by Greenoe in America, the jury was told. A gun used in the attempted robbery of a Liverpool taxi driver in March 2011 was matched to two guns bought by Greenoe.
Greenoe, who claimed to be a former captain in the US Marines and former bodyguard to Madonna, pleaded guilty to two counts of transporting guns outside the US without a federal export licence.
Richardson said: “You would probably describe Greenoe as a Walter Mitty character with falsified documentation about his levels of skills and as a captain in the marines.
“Although he has no criminal background he has proved himself to be a sophisticated liar and a significant threat to the security of America and most certainly the security of the UK.”
Greenoe is due to be sentenced in the US in December.Comments (0)