A former US marine who had previously worked as a bodyguard for Madonna has been jailed for 10 years for smuggling guns into the UK on commercial flights.

Madonna. PICs/AFP

Steven Greenoe, from 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 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 illegal firearms trafficking and firearms smuggling posed a danger to the public.

"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," the Daily Express quoted Walker as saying.

Brock Nicholson, special agent in charge of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas, said that Greenoe had "potentially put the safety of countless law-abiding British citizens at risk".

"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," Nicholson said.

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 pounds apiece.