'Sophisticated' large-scale illegal gun factory discovered in East Sussex warehouse

The gun factory was disguised as a gearbox repair business (NCA)

A ‘sophisticated’ illegal gun factory has been discovered on the edge of an East Sussex market town, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has confirmed.

Investigators discovered a ‘large-scale’ operation in a warehouse on an industrial estate in Hailsham. The factory was disguised as a gearbox repair business.

Officers arrested three men found leaving the building and had to use a Taser on one of them, an NCA spokesman said.

Two handguns and a quantity of ammunition were recovered at the scene.

The surrounding area was then cordoned off, and the NCA and Sussex police conducted a search of the site.

This search uncovered what the NCA suspects to be ‘machinery and components used in the criminal manufacture of firearms and ammunition, including a number of handguns in various stages of production, as well as what appears to be templates and metal for use in their fabrication.’

A quantity of ammunition was recovered from the East Sussex warehouse (NCA)
The industrial estate where the gun factory was discovered in Hailsham, East Sussex (PA Images)

Head of the NCA’s National Firearms Threat Centre, Rob Hickinbottom, said: “Our investigation is continuing, and much of what we have discovered at this location will now be the subject of careful forensic analysis.


“We suspect that this operation has disrupted a group that would appear to be involved in the criminal production of firearms.

“As a result we have prevented a potentially large quantity of weapons from getting onto the black market and into the hands of criminals.

“I would also like to recognise the superb support and assistance we have had from Sussex Police throughout this operation – their contribution to this investigation has been and will continue to be crucial to its success.”