Police in rural Tasmania have seized 21 illegal firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition after raiding a hidden underground bunker in the north of the state.
The haul included unregistered rifles, as well as well as drugs and a variety of stolen items. One man has subsequently been arrested and police say more arrests may follow.
The bunker, said to be the size of about four shipping containers and accessible via two separate entrances, was found buried in a backyard and covered by grass and shrubs when officers searched two homes in the small community of Longford, near Launceston.
“We’re talking about something that was buried a while ago, the undergrowth has now grown over that and it’s well hidden,” Detective Inspector Craig Fox told the media.
Hidden rooms are common, but not hidden bunkers
“Anyone that’s going to go to the extent of hiding a bunker on a property or in a house is going to make it fairly well concealed, but we are well trained in looking for dimensions that don’t look right, areas where earth has been unturned… we go through under floors, in walls, we’ll find hidey-holes in the floor or in the roof.
“It’s not unusual to find hidden rooms, it is unusual to find hidden bunkers.
“All up, we found a wide variety of firearms … handguns, semi-automatic rifles, double-barrel shot guns, plenty of ammunition and some grenade-type explosives.”
He said the bunker was well constructed and in one part of the bunker police d found that hydroponic cannabis was being grown.
More than 30 police and other personnel involved
According to Tasmania Police, more than 30 officers were involved in the targeted search, as well as members of the State Emergency Service and a drone.
In April, a special task force was set up to target illegal firearms in northern Tasmania after a concerning number of firearms-related incidents in the area.
“While it’s normal that crime trends fluctuate from time to time, over the past month there has been a concerning number of incidents involving firearms,” a police spokesperson said at the time.
“Although no-one has been seriously injured, and the vast majority of the incidents involve people who are known to both police and one another, we are taking this extremely seriously.”