LONDON - Two men have been jailed for 12 years for plotting to smuggle explosives, submachine guns and grenades into Britain.
Earl Marcus Bailey, 28, and another man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were found guilty of conspiring to import weapons hidden in a Volkswagen Golf fitted with secret panels.
Customs officers found 500g of plastic explosives, two detonators, nine hand grenades, eight propelled grenades, 10 handguns and more than 1,000 bullets.
Scotland Yard said the weapons were intended for use in robberies and other gun crime rather than for terrorism as police originally feared.
"Our inquiries uncovered an international conspiracy to import a horrifying collection of weapons and explosives," said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of the Metropolitan Police's Anti-Terrorist Branch.
The seizure was one of the biggest in years and sparked a "major anti-terrorist investigation", he added.
Bailey and his co-defendant were found guilty at Birmingham Crown Court of conspiracy to possess an explosive substance and conspiracy to possess prohibited weapons and ammunition.
Customs officers discovered the haul in April 2002 when they received a tip-off about a Ford recovery truck loaded with a VW Golf trying to enter Britain at the port of Felixstowe, Suffolk.
After a search revealed nothing unusual, officers X-rayed the Golf and found the weapons hidden behind concealed panels.
The truck driver and his passenger were arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 before being released without charge. Police said the pair had been unaware of the weapons.
Scotland Yard said Bailey had paid the driver 1,700 pounds ($5000) to pick up the car containing the weapons from the Netherlands.
Officers used mobile phone records in their hunt for Bailey.