SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Police in China, where gun possession by ordinary people is illegal, have busted an online gun selling operation, seizing 1,180 guns and more than 6 million bullets, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday.
A seven-month investigation that started when police happened across suspected gun parts in a package netted 18 people involved in the sale of guns in China via a website hosted on a U.S. server, Xinhua said.
The gun selling ring had made more than 4 million yuan ($625,537) in profit since 2012, according to a police officer quoted by Xinhua.
The manufacture and sale of guns is strictly regulated in China and individuals can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison if convicted of illegally possessing a gun. With such strict controls, private gun ownership is almost unheard of and gun crime is rare.
In April, police found items believed to be gun components in a package when inspecting a courier service, Xinhua quoted Lyu Ming, a police officer in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, as saying.
In the following months, police traced packages to five suspects in the central province of Hunan and raided a house they had used to sell guns, it said.
One suspect confessed that they had been in the online gun business since 2012, using a rented server in the United States. They posted advertisements online and recruited sales agents nationwide, Xinhua said.
Thirteen others were also detained, it said without giving details.
($1 = 6.39 yuan)
($1 = 6.3945 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by John Ruwitch)