Port Macquarie man charged over firearm blueprints

UPDATE: The AFP has been advised this matter has been re-scheduled, and the 61-year-old man is expected to appear in Port Macquarie Local Court on Wednesday, 6 April 2022.

Editor’s Note: Images of the files and audio grabs from AFP Detective a/Sergeant Nicole Whelan are available via hightail

A 61-year-old Port Macquarie man is scheduled to face Port Macquarie Local Court today (30 March 2022) following a multi-agency investigation into online purchases of items allegedly used to make 3D printed firearm parts.

AFP officers executed a search warrant, with the assistance of the Australian Border Force (ABF) at the man’s Port Macquarie home on 3 March 2022, where they seized a 3D printer, two spools of 3D filament and multiple electronic devices, including mobile phones, USBs, SD cards and laptops.

AFP Digital Forensics examined the devices and allegedly found information on the man’s phone about printing firearms using a 3D printer and files on the SD card for a semi-automatic firearm and a 3D printable assault rifle.

The man was charged with one count of possessing digital blueprints for the manufacture of a firearm, contrary to section 51F of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW).

The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years’ imprisonment.

The man was released on bail with strict conditions on 3 March 2022 and is expected to appear in Port Macquarie Local Court on 30 March 2022.

AFP Detective a/Sergeant Nicole Whelan said the manufacture of 3D printed firearms are a threat to the safety of our community.

“The collaborative work in the intelligence space between the AFP and its law enforcement partners allows authorities to remain a step ahead of criminal entities; knowing their agendas and stopping their illegal activities,” Det-a/Sgt Whelan said.

“Intelligence officers play an integral role in identifying perpetrators, tracking their activities, providing evidence to assist in an arrest and preventing future harm.”

ABF Inspector Investigations NSW, Tony Wheatley, said the arrest was another positive outcome of inter-agency collaboration, targeting criminals attempting to possess and manufacture illegal firearms.

“This is a significant result for our investigators and shows the ABF and our partner agencies are committed to protecting the Australian community by detecting and disrupting the illicit firearms trade,” Inspector Wheatley said.

Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) National Manager, Jon Brewer said, “AUSTRAC’s specialist capabilities play a unique but critical role in law enforcement operations such as Project Adestria.”

“We are highly focused on using financial intelligence and leveraging our data and analytical capabilities to identify people that present a risk to the community.”

The AFP’s Taskforce Vanguard began the investigation in January 2022 following intelligence from Project Adestria – a joint venture between AFP Forensic Intelligence, AUSTRAC and ABF to identify and disrupt illicit firearms activities.

Project Adestria identified online purchases of items that could be used in the construction of improvised firearm sound suppressors in April 2021. The purchases were allegedly linked to a 61-year-old man residing in Port Macquarie.

Inquiries continued with ABF officers examining a parcel in May 2021 described as ‘3D printer parts’, which contained various items, including shaft collars with 3mm and 16mm inner diameters and instructions for a 3D-printable semi-automatic pistol calibre carbine.

Project Adestria finalised its inquiries and referred the matter to AFP Taskforce Vanguard in Eastern Command for further investigation.

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