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Former Madonna minder gets 10 years

A former US marine who once worked as a bodyguard for Madonna has been jailed for 10 years for smuggling guns into the UK on commercial flights.

Steven Greenoe, 37, of Raleigh, North Carolina, bought guns from American gun shops, broke them down to their component parts and then smuggled them into the UK in his luggage.

Greenoe was sentenced to 10 years at a federal court in Greenville, North Carolina, followed by three years supervision on his release.

In November, Steven Cardwell, 31, from Liverpool, was given an indeterminate jail sentence following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court after he obtained scores of smuggled guns from Greenoe and then sold them on to UK criminals.

United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker said: "This was an international investigation into illegal firearms trafficking and firearms smuggling. Illegal firearms smuggling poses a danger to the public, and our office will prosecute such cases vigorously."

Brock Nicholson, special agent in charge of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas, said: "By seeking to circumvent both US and UK laws to illegally export firearms, Mr Greenoe has potentially put the safety of countless law-abiding British citizens at risk. Thanks to investigative assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), in addition to the aggressive prosecution by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Mr Greenoe will now be held accountable for his crimes."

Greenoe was arrested at Raleigh Durham International Airport on July 25 2010 when an arsenal of 16 lethal weapons was found in his suitcase.

The trial in Liverpool heard that weapons linked to the conspiracy were used in at least one fatal shooting in the UK. Undercover police officers in Liverpool also bought three Glock handguns for £3,600 apiece. Greenoe paid just £300 for each of those weapons in America.

In October last year a 24-year-old man suffered a bullet wound to the leg during a drive-by shooting in Wythenshawe, Manchester. The gun used in the shooting was never found but cartridges at the scene matched guns bought by Greenoe in America, the trial heard. Another weapon, a "composite firearm" used in the attempted robbery of a Liverpool taxi driver last March, was forensically matched to two guns purchased by Greenoe in America.

Detectives fear those incidents could be just the tip of the iceberg.

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