GANG thugs in the city where little Olivia Pratt-Korbel was killed can hire guns for just £200 a night.
An arsenal of pistols and stolen shotguns are said to be hidden across Liverpool, which can be ordered via encrypted apps, a report claims.
The shocking details of the gun trade emerged following the death of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel in her own home.
Handguns which are being smuggled from Eastern Europe are being converted into the cheapest lethal weapons seen in years, a Sunday Mirror report claims.
It also revealed Country Lines drugs gangs are also raiding farms to steal “shotties” – shotguns – to order.
One source told the paper: “Shotties are the weapons everyone wants in Liverpool.”
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Another underworld source, said to have links to a gun-running gang in the North West said: “If you want a gun you can get one very easily.
“Stashed across the city are all kinds of shooters. Shotties, nines (9mm pistols) even submachine guns – MP5s, Heckler & Kochs.
“Ex-squaddies bring them over from Northern Ireland. You just need to put the word out and can get one in a day or two.”
Makarov pistols, designed to fire CS gas, are said to being smuggled in the UK from Bulgaria and converted to fire live rounds.
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“It’s very easy,” the source said. “You drill out the barrel and convert it with live ammunition. They’re buying them for less than £200, converting them in factories and selling them on for two and a half bags (thousand).”
Criminals who can’t afford to buy a firearm outright can borrow a gun for a night for £200-£300, sources said.
The arsenal of weapons are thought to he concealed in allotments, lock-ups and under floorboards and include Slovakian Grand Power and Zoraki pistols which have been smuggled into the UK.
While most shootings in Merseyside involve handguns, there has been a sharp rise in the use of shotguns.
GANGS TARGETING FARMERS' SHOTGUNS
Teens running County Lines drug gangs in rural areas seize farmers’ legal firearms while they are out in the field, the reports says.
Those weapons are then handed over to city drug bosses who use them to intimidate and main rival, or sell them on for up to £4,000 a time.
A string of farms in Lancashire, Cumbria, Shropshire and Wales have been targeted.
A 65-year-old farmer was shot in the leg by raiders who got away with four shotguns, ammunition, jewellery and cash from his pile in Aughton, Lancs.
In a house burglary in Swansea Valley, South Wales two 12-bore shotguns and two powerful air rifles were taken.
Jonathan Blair, 25, a Liverpool dealer, pleaded guilty after being found with the weapons as well as cash and £29,000 worth of crack cocaine and heroin.
The haul was part of a County Lines operation selling Class A drugs from Liverpool to Wales.
A source told the paper that the lads who are sent out not only sell hard drugs but also hit farms as well because “there’s big money to be made”.
They added: “If you want to hire a shottie you’ll pay around a monkey (£500).
“To buy one it’s closer to £4,000, but a lot of people know they’re nicked and won’t pay full whack.
“The good thing is there are two tubes so they don’t leave marks on the bullet or the gun. Makes it much harder for ballistics experts to trace them.”
Denis Moran, a retired cop who was attached to Merseyside Police’s crack anti-gang Matrix unit, said that the lads dealing drugs in Cheshire, Cumbria and Shropshire were also being told to steal shotguns which would be used on city streets.
Notorious drug gangs, including Bootle’s Fernhill mob who are said to be behind a wave of attacks, are coming under scrutiny.
In March and April, police discovered loaded sawn-off shotguns, ammunition, grenades and a stash of cocaine in two houses.
Another shotgun hidden in wasteland in Kirby was traced to a gang which used it in several hits on rivals.
Two more were discovered in an abandoned allotment in Crosby in March.
A spate of attacks are said to have taken place in towns in North Wales.
Merseyside Police launched a Firearms Investigations Unite in 2020 in a bid to tackle gun crime.
GANG WARFARE OVER DRUGS TRADE
The initiative coincided with a fall in the number of shooting but firearms offences are now on the rise again as gangs battle it out for control of the drugs trade.
An innocent 15-year-old girl suffered devastating injuries in March when a masked gang on E-scooters opened fire while she waited for a bus in Toxteth.
The suspected shooter was later arrested.
In May, a gunman on an electric bike shot at a house in the Dingle area, near Toxteth, as people sat inside.
Just a month later shots were fired from an E-scooter in Everton before a man was dropped off in hospital with gunshot wounds.
On August 16, Sam Rimmer, 22, was walking in the same area when he was shot in the chest by gunmen who fled on electric bikes. He died in hospital.
Last Sunday, council worker Ashley Dale, 28, was shot dead in her garden in the neighbourhood of Old Swan.
Former Merseyside drugs squad and regional crime squad detective Steve Kyle said: “There’s a new generation of feral, violent gangs who’ll do anything to get what they want.
“They have no respect for law and order, no respect for the communities they live in or the families within them.
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“And police are powerless to stop it. There’s no one policing the streets, so burglars or dealers are left to their own devices.
“That’s why people are getting shot with impunity and that’s why you’re getting unimaginable tragedies like what happened to that little girl.”
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