A type of Russian handgun removed from British streets by police nearly a decade ago has reportedly made a return.
The Baikal IZH-79 – often imported from Russia and Eastern Europe – was the weapon of choice for British gangsters in the late 2000s, reports the Daily Mail.
The guns were often sold with a silencer and bullets and were so commonplace that they became known as the ‘hitman kit’.
In the late 2000s large numbers were bought over the counter in Russia and Latvia, for as little as £8 a weapon, before being driven into the UK and sold for around £1,200 each.
The pistols – originally manufactured to fire tear gas pellets but converted to fire 9mm ammunition – also had their barrels threaded to fit silencers, allowing them to be used discreetly at close quarters.
Police believed they had managed to crack down on the Baikal import market following a co-ordinated effort with agencies across Europe to stop the supply chain.
However, in October last year, five Baikal together with silencers and 35 rounds of ammunition were found hidden in ‘meat products’ aboard a postal bus arriving in Dover from Lithuania.
Four months later, ten more were discovered in a hidden compartment in a car driving through the port, according to The Times.
A report published last month by the National Crime Agency (NCA) revealed the October seizure was the first time the pistols had been detected at the border since 2009.
The report also warned that weapons and ammunition ordered online are being smuggled into the country under the cover of the legitimate shopping trade.
Security expert Jim Clements told The Times the recent seizures suggest the supply has started up again.
The return of the Baikal assassination kit makes my blood run cold.
This doesn’t sound good…