Wollongong detectives posing as weapons buyers spent tens of thousands of dollars on machine guns and pistols to take down a group of alleged firearms traffickers operating in the Illawarra.The five-month investigation, known as Strike Force Bowl, featured six lead detectives from the Wollongong command and culminated in the arrests yesterday of three men, two from Fairy Meadow, aged 39 and 59, and a 55-year-old man from Cringila.During the investigation police allege they established relationships with the men, which led to the purchase of a World War II Bren light machine gun, a home-made machine gun, a 12-gauge pump action shotgun and a number of pistols.VIDEO: Police test fire guns seized in Wollongong raidAbout 9.30am yesterday police swooped on properties at Storey St, Fairy Meadow and Dorman St, Cringila and arrested two men.At the same time, a third man, 55, was arrested at a coffee shop in the Wollongong CBD.Wollongong area Commander Kyle Stewart said the men were assisting police with their inquiries and were expected to be charged with firearms offences, including supply and possession."Clearly every firearm we have received is designed for one purpose only, which is illegal purposes," Mr Stewart said."All of the detectives involved, including myself and the crime manager (Joe Mura) were quite surprised at the ease with which we were able to negotiate the purchase of what are effectively some quite frightening firearms."The Bren light machine gun, which was used by Australian and allied forces during World War II, is capable of firing up to 520 rounds per minute and can shoot as far as 1.5km.Police were still waiting on the results of a forensic examination to determine whether the weapons had been used in any crimes. "We are able to identify a series of hands-through of which the firearms have been traded and passed," Mr Stewart said, adding that police allegations about the men's overall criminal activities would be "spelled out in more detail when we present the matter before the court".Police are also pursuing a number of related leads and suspects.The three men are expected to appear in Wollongong Local Court today.