POLICE on the island of Tenerife have dismantled a Neo-Nazi criminal gang using 3D printing technology to create home made firearms, a first in Spain.

The Policia Nacional released details of the operation yesterday which was carried out in September of last year in the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Investigations began when a suspicious purchase was made from an IP address on the island for hang gun components and explosive materials.

Police assembled a team of officers and specialist bomb squad experts from the National Explosive Deactivation Team (TEDAX) and began raids on four separate properties across Santa Cruz.

3d Printing
The body of a handgun on the 3D printer (Policia Nacional – TEDAX)

It was during the raids that police discovered the gun manufacturing facility, a modest apartment hidden amongst residential properties but concealing a hoard of weapons of war and state of the art 3D printing machines.

Among the weapons, various Nazi memorabilia and white supremacist symbols were found, as well as ‘terrorist handbooks’ and instruction manuals for how to create firearms and bombs.

In total, over 30 different weapons were seized, including two tasers, five knives, a machete, a sword and various chemical substances that could be turned into explosive devices.

On the printing block was a hand gun body that was in the process of being created on one of two 3D printers in the property, along with over 30 different manuals, 11 spools of filament, laptops and computers and 20 already produced handgun frames ready to be assembled.

TEDAX officers gutted the place with the help of specialist sniffer dogs and confiscated all artifacts whilst arresting one man of Spanish nationality on charges of illegal firearm trafficking.

3d Printing 2

The discovery has prompted police to work alongside the Spanish government to redefine the framework to which the fight against illegal criminal gangs operate.

As a direct result of the discovery, an International Conference is planned with members of the Spanish authorities sitting with EU law makers to better understand the ever growing threat of this new technology.

Whilst 3D printed firearms is a relatively new technology, is was firmly placed on the world stage after the October 2019 German synagogue attack.

According to the German justice minister, the attack was made by a far-right extremist using a home made 3D printed rifle.

Two people died and nine were injured when 27-year-old Stephan Balliet went on a shooting spree in the town of Halle.

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