Former Madonna bodyguard gets 10 years for smuggling guns on commercial flights into Britain
A FORMER US marine who once worked as a bodyguard for Madonna has been jailed for 10 years for smuggling guns into the UK on commercial flights.
Steven Greenoe, 37, of Raleigh, North Carolina, bought guns from American gun shops, broke them down to their component parts and then smuggled them into the UK in his luggage.
Greenoe was yesterday sentenced to 10 years at a federal court in Greenville, North Carolina, followed by three years supervision on his release.
In November, Steven Cardwell, 31, from Liverpool, was given an indeterminate jail sentence following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court after he obtained scores of smuggled guns from Greenoe and then sold them on to UK criminals.
United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker said: "This was an international investigation into illegal firearms trafficking and firearms smuggling.
"Illegal firearms smuggling poses a danger to the public, and our office will prosecute such cases vigorously."
Brock Nicholson, special agent in charge of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas, said: "By seeking to circumvent both US and UK laws to illegally export firearms, Mr Greenoe has potentially put the safety of countless law-abiding British citizens at risk.
"Thanks to investigative assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), in addition to the aggressive prosecution by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Mr Greenoe will now be held accountable for his crimes."
Greenoe was arrested at Raleigh Durham International Airport on July 25 2010 when an arsenal of 16 lethal weapons was found in his suitcase.
The trial in Liverpool heard that weapons linked to the conspiracy were used in at least one fatal shooting in the UK.
Undercover police officers in Liverpool also bought three Glock handguns for £3,600 apiece.
Greenoe paid just £300 for each of those weapons in America.
In October last year a 24-year-old man suffered a bullet wound to the leg during a drive-by shooting in Wythenshawe, Manchester.
The gun used in the shooting was never found but cartridges at the scene matched guns bought by Greenoe in America, the trial heard.
Another weapon, a "composite firearm" used in the attempted robbery of a Liverpool taxi driver last March, was forensically matched to two guns purchased by Greenoe in America.
Detectives fear those incidents could be just the tip of the iceberg.
The court in America was told that Greenoe smuggled 63 pistols on nine trips to the UK between February and July, 2010.
After buying the guns in North Carolina, Greenoe would head to the airport at Raleigh and either fly direct or transfer through New York, Atlanta or Los Angeles to Manchester Airport, the jury was told.
The broken-down gun components were hidden inside his hold luggage.
It is understood he was stopped by airport security staff in North Carolina on at least one occasion when screening detected items in his suitcase.
But he managed to convince workers he was an arms salesman and the weapons parts were dummies.
Cardwell, who will serve a minimum of 11 years before being considered for parole, was described as the "money man" of the operation.
Greenoe was described by police as a "Walter Mitty" character.
At the time of the offences, the US citizen had "indefinite leave to remain in the UK" because his then wife, Elizabeth, is British and lived in Shrewsbury.
The couple are now divorced.
Giving evidence in Cardwell's trial, the ex-wife told the jury of Greenoe's glamorous lifestyle as a bodyguard to A-list celebrities.
While working in Paris and Amsterdam, he provided security services for the Hollywood movie Oceans 12, Mrs Greenoe revealed.
She said she saw photographs of him in the company of stars including George Clooney, Matt Damon and Madonna, which had been posted on his Facebook page.
During a period in the South of France in 2005 and 2006 he was also employed in "maritime security", protecting the yachts of the world's super-rich.
However, his pedigree as a soldier was thrown into doubt when certificates were discovered after his arrest which appeared to contradict his claim to be a captain in the US Marines Corps.
One suggested he never rose above the rank of lance corporal in an administration role.
Mrs Greenoe said her former husband also claimed to have worked for Nato and served in the French Foreign Legion.