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Photo: DPA

Belgian police have arrested an 18-year-old from Leuven and her 26-year-old French partner because they used 3D printers to produce functioning illegal firearms and gun parts in their home and offered them for sale on darknet forums. This is reported by the Belgian media, citing police information.

At the same time, nine people were arrested in France. Most of them are said to be buyers of the weapons. According to the investigative authorities, the two raids were preceded by months of investigations.

During the house search in Leuven, investigators found a running 3D printer that produced so-called “pen guns,” i.e. firearms in the shape of ballpoint pens. Police also seized dozens of plastic and metal weapon parts, as well as complete, ready-to-fire weapons. These were not registered and therefore could not be traced.

Problem has existed for years

At a press conference on Monday, Belgian investigators said it was not the first discovery of 3D-printed weapons in Belgium, but that it was unusual on this scale. "The joint operation can be viewed as one of the greatest police successes in the fight against the trade in 3D weapons and their production in Europe," the media quoted the Federal Police's head of operations, Lieve Craps, as saying.

Europol has been warning about weapons made from 3D printers since 2019. The right-wing extremist attacker in Halle, who unsuccessfully tried to force his way into a synagogue and shot two people, had, among other things, weapons with plastic parts made from a 3D printer.

In the USA, activist Cody Wilson became famous with 3D-printed weapons. In legal disputes he fought for the right to sell the corresponding building plans online. Passengers who had printed weapons in their luggage according to such plans have been arrested several times at airports.