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Gun-smuggling ship Albernina being auctioned in Belfast

Published 24/08/2016

The Albernina motor cruiser, used in Britain's biggest-known gun smuggling operation, which is to be auctioned in Belfast (Wilson's Auctions/PA)
The Albernina motor cruiser, used in Britain's biggest-known gun smuggling operation, which is to be auctioned in Belfast (Wilson's Auctions/PA)
Harry Shilling was handed a sentence of 30 years in jail (PA/National Crime Agency)

The boat used in Britain's biggest-known gun smuggling operation is to be auctioned in Belfast on Thursday.

The Albernina motor cruiser arrived with the deadly cargo of £100,000 worth of arms near Cuxton Marina, outside Rochester in Kent, on August 10 last year.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said the assault weapons seized were similar to those used in the terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine's Paris offices.

They were intercepted because the agency had the plotters under surveillance and swooped to seize the cache of 31 assault rifles and sub-machine guns before it could be buried and then passed into the wrong hands.

Two men were found g uilty of gun smuggling and possessing firearms with intent to endanger life following a trial held at the Old Bailey earlier this year.

Wilson's Auctions in Belfast will sell off the 38ft vessel.

The NCA hailed it as the biggest seizure of deadly guns on British soil. The gang had no connection with terrorism.

The mastermind behind the operation, Harry Shilling, bragged "we now officially gangsters" after 22 assault rifles and nine Skorpion sub-machine guns from eastern Europe sailed up the River Medway from Boulogne in France.

Shilling, 26, was handed a sentence of 30 years in jail, plus five years on extended licence, while Michael Defraine was given 27 years in jail, plus five years on extended licence.

The Albernina will go under the hammer alongside luxury yacht the Golem.

The 57ft Nordia sloop yacht was intercepted by government officials on 31 August last year carrying almost a tonne of cocaine across the Atlantic from the southern Caribbean. The sailors onboard were sentenced to more than 34 years in prison.

Forensic tests on the packages revealed the cocaine was 70 percent pure, and if adulterated and sold in the UK would have had a potential street value of around £120 million.

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