A FORMER Yorkshire soldier jailed for being in a plot to smuggle guns out of Iraq says it was easy to obtain the weapons and transport them to Europe.
Private Shane Pleasant was in the 3rd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment when he became involved in the plot to smuggle weapons from Iraq to Germany.
Illegal pistols were bought on the black market in Basra and taken to Germany – possibly in the fuel tanks of Army vehicles – and later recovered.
The guns were smuggled into the barracks at Osnabruck, where soldiers hoped to sell the weapons to other members of the unit.
Pleasant was sent to prison for five years and four months after he admitted possessing a prohibited pistol following a lengthy court- martial involving other members of his regiment.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live that weapons could be obtained in Iraq or Afghanistan, either by buying or stealing from locals and foreign police.
Pleasant featured on the programme alongside Lance Corporal Ben Whitfield. The pair told the programme that with the right contacts it was easy to smuggle the weapons into the UK.
Pleasant said: “In Iraq the lads were seeing Iraqi police officers, buying them off them, buying them off the civilians.
“Then they were paying people to smuggle them back in tanks, in Warrior armoured personnel carriers, Land Rovers, toolboxes or any kind of equipment that would get brought back from the operational theatre.
“It were that easy to get them.”
He said it was always easy to get weapons out of Iraq.
“There has been a few people that’s been involved in it, there’s always a way to get your stuff out of a country if you want to get it out without getting caught.
“If you know the right people you’re laughing. It were a guy who I knew at work who got me mine.”
Pleasant was among seven soldiers from the Regiment who were found guilty of being involved in a gun smuggling plot.
The sentences handed down ranged from 10 years in jail to six months in a detention centre.