SPANISH police have seized around 12,000 illegal weapons, some of which are ‘capable of shooting down aircraft.’
Five suspects, including one woman, were arrested during the sting, which involved raids in the northern towns of Olot (Girona), Liendo (Cantabria), Galdakao and Getxo (both in the Basque Country).
In the latter investigators swooped on a sophisticated underground workshop where guns and other arms were reconditioned.
The gang obtained decommissioned weapons legally via a bogus sports equipment firm before renovating and selling them on the black market.
The company did not have a licence to trade in firearms, however, and police consider this an intentional move in order to avoid unwanted attention.
In addition to the thousands of weapons ready to sell, police also seized 29 machine guns, various pistols and handguns, several anti-aircraft cannons, ammunition of various calibres and €80,000 in cash.
In total, the haul is estimated to be worth some €10 million on the black market.
Reconditioned weapons obtained from Slovakia were used in the Paris attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebo in January 2015.
The current investigation was started following the May 2014 terrorist attack in Brussels, when an Algerian man with French nationality opened fire in a Jewish Centre, killing four people.
There is no suggestion that the Spanish traffickers were involved in the incident, however.