Five men jailed for firearms conspiracy - Luton

17/08/2017

Five Luton men appeared at St Albans Crown Court today, Thursday, 17 August 2017, and were jailed for a combined total of more than 85 years for their roles in a conspiracy to import and distribute firearms in the UK.

Five members of the organised crime group were convicted following a 12 week trial in July. Their convictions and sentences are as follows:

  • Muzaffer Ali, aged 39, of Maidenhall Road, Luton - found guilty of conspiracy to import guns and ammunition and of the transfer of guns and ammunition and sentenced to a discretionary life sentence and is to serve a minimum of 11 years (half the 22 years imprisonment he would have received if the Judge had not passed the life sentence).
  • Haroon Khatab, aged 41, of Jasmine Road, Luton - found guilty of conspiracy to import guns and ammunition and sentenced to a total of 19 years imprisonment.
  • Sajid Khan, aged 25, of 7 Manx Close, Luton - found guilty of conspiracy to import guns and ammunition and of the transfer of guns and ammunition and sentenced to a total of 18 years imprisonment.
  • Khalid Hussain, aged 39, of Maidenhall Road, Luton - found guilty of conspiracy to import guns and ammunition and sentenced to a total of 17 years imprisonment with an additional 2 years for drugs offences.
  • Faisal Mahmood, aged 20, of Maidenhall Road, Luton - pleaded guilty during the trial to the transfer of firearms and ammunition and sentenced to a total of 7 years and 10 months imprisonment.

In March 2016, a number of guns and ammunition were recovered by police after they were supplied to a criminal group based in Leicester. A joint surveillance operation between the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) and the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) evidenced the supply of three Hungarian FEG semi-automatic handguns and 21 rounds of ammunition by the Luton gang to the Leicester group.

ERSOU officers uncovered the fact that Ali, as head of the group, had been responsible for sourcing the weaponry in the Netherlands before using other members of the group to provide security, package and store firearms, collect money, and deliver the weapons to other criminal groups. Ali was closely assisted by Khan, who was his "right hand man," and Hussain, who was Ali's older brother. They and Khatab, whose role was to drive back to the UK from Holland with the weapons, were described as Ali's "lieutenants." Mahmood acted as a courier.

Dutch Police and the National Crime Agency were instrumental in supporting the investigation, leading to a multi-agency operation, in which two members of the organised crime group were stopped at the UK border in Coquelles, France in May 2016. They were arrested after firearms were found hidden behind the dashboard of a hired Ford Mondeo estate.

James Cable, Senior Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved members of an organised crime gang from Luton illegally importing self-loading pistols, a sub-machine gun and ammunition into the UK via the Channel Tunnel in February and May 2016.

"The February shipment of three handguns and ammunition was sold on to a Leicester based criminal gang, but was intercepted in March 2016, by the police after it had been collected from Luton and was on its way back to Leicester. The May shipment of a Skorpion machine gun and a Beretta handgun was intercepted at the border, but was destined for sale on to other criminal gangs across the UK.

Inderpaul Rura, Tavian Simpson and Jatinder Singh, who were the receivers of the February shipment, were convicted at Leicester Crown Court late last year of transferring a prohibited firearm and ammunition and sentenced for this, and other offences, to a combined total of 45 and a half years imprisonment.

"The leader of the Luton gang, Muzaffer Ali, was security conscious and in the four month period between February and May 2016, personally used 18 different 'dirty' mobile phone numbers to conceal his wrongdoing. More than 60 were used by the Luton gang, during this period, in an attempt to frustrate any police investigation into their activities. Ali was responsible for sourcing the weaponry, but was careful to distance himself from the shipments and paid others to run the risk of collecting, packaging, storing and transporting them.

"On 17 July 2017, after a 12 week trial at St Albans Crown Court, Ali, Khalid Hussain, Haroon Khatab and Sajid Khan, all from Luton, were found guilty of conspiracy to evade the prohibition on the importation of prohibited firearms and ammunition. Ali and Khan were also found guilty of transferring a prohibited firearm and ammunition, which related to the sale of the February shipment to the Leicester gang. Faisal Mahmood pleaded guilty during the trial to transferring a prohibited firearm and ammunition, which also related to the sale of the February shipment to the Leicester gang.

"Both cases involved substantial work by the Dutch authorities and National Crime Agency and a joint surveillance operation between the East Midlands and Eastern Region Special Operations Units. Mobile phone, automatic number plate recognition and police surveillance evidence along with the use of bank cards (to book flights, hotel rooms, Eurotunnel etc.) and hire cars were all used to successfully convict the gang.

"The impact on communities of illegal firearms is immense. The defendants were motivated by money, without a care for the potential misery their actions were causing to the lives of others. Thanks to a dedicated and detailed investigation followed by robust prosecutions, a substantial quantity of military grade weaponry has been removed from the supply chain, these organised criminals have been removed from society, and the public has been made safe from their dangerous, harmful, and life destroying activities.

"These cases send out a clear message that the CPS and the police take these offences very seriously and anyone involved in the illegal firearms trade can expect to be prosecuted robustly. We will continue to work closely with our partners to ensure that persons involved in this kind of criminality are brought to justice."

Detective Sergeant James Panter from ERSOU, who led the case, said: "I am pleased that the sentences passed today reflect the severity of the crimes this organised gang were involved in. The profits and consequences of gun crime have far-reaching effects in the community; not least to mention the potential loss of life which could have been caused had we not managed to intercept these overseas arms transfers.

"ERSOU has worked closely with a number of agencies in order to achieve these results and I hope that the sentences send out a message to other organised crime groups - you will not get away with your highly dangerous and damaging actions."

Three other defendants (Ikram Zaman, Yasser Majid and Ayanleh Hosh) were found not guilty of conspiracy to evade the prohibition on the importation of prohibited firearms and ammunition following the trial.