A boat is believed to have been used to transport several firearms and rounds of ammunition to the UK

Seven people have been charged after firearms and rounds of ammunition were seized from Cuxton Marina in Kent.

Eight people, aged between 24 and 58, were arrested across the southern county on Tuesday following an investigation into suspected firearms importation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Officers detained three men and a woman near the A228, while a further three men were arrested in Orpington, and another in Swanley. He has since been released on bail and the others charged with importing and possessing firearms.

The NCA seized 22 automatic assault rifles, 9 Skorpion machine pistols, 58 magazines, two silencers and around 1,000 live rounds of ammunition.

The guns were found in holdalls and a suitcase, which also contained numerous magazines and ammunition, from a van as it left Cuxton Marina.

It followed the arrival of the motor cruiser MV Albernina, which had travelled to the UK from France.

The operation to track the vessel involved the NCA working closely with Border Force and the National Maritime Information Centre.

NCA deputy director Graham Gardner said: “This was an extremely significant seizure, the largest of its kind in the UK. I’ve no doubt that these weapons would have ended up in criminal hands and it goes without saying the risk they would have posed to the public.

“We are still in the early stages of a significant investigation which will continue for some time.  Through the excellent work and action taken alongside Kent Police we have made a huge step in protecting the public in Kent and further afield.”

The seven have been remanded in custody and are expected to appear via video link at Medway Magistrates Court on Friday.