A 29-year old man from Bordesley Green, who supplied guns and ammunition to organised crime groups across the UK, has been jailed for 22 years.
Umair Khan used the online identity ‘cheeko412’ to buy explosives, ammunition and stun guns from the dark web, including more than 50 revolvers and over 1,600 rounds of ammunition between August 2014 and February 2017.
Officers from the National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Service’s joint Organised Crime Partnership (OCP) arrested Khan on the 20th February 2017. Khan had ordered a hand grenade and arranged for it to be delivered to an address in Birmingham but OCP officers intercepted it and replaced the contents with a non-explosive substitute before allowing it to be delivered.
When officers searched his home address they recovered four revolvers along with 15 rounds of ammunition.
Investigators established that Khan was also actively buying large quantities of custom-made ammunition from the dark web, to use antique revolvers and weapons he had purchased from legitimate firearms dealers and auction houses across the country.
He arranged for the ammunition to be imported to the UK from an armourer and ammunition manufacturer on the dark web. The ammunition was then concealed within postal parcels and packets sent from Sweden in sophisticated vehicle concealments. Khan then sold the firearms, complete with ammunition, to organised crime groups across the UK.
One weapon was recovered following a West Midlands Police investigation, fully loaded and in the hands of a Class A drug dealer who was stopped in a stolen vehicle.
A second man, Nazim Hussain, was arrested on the 21st February 2017. He had been helping Khan to find places to store the weapons and ammunition. He was responsible for managing the dark web deliveries to multiple addresses across Birmingham, and ensuring they were signed for by others before being passed onto Khan on a later date.
He was sentenced to nine. Sentencing both at Birmingham Crown Court, HHJ Carr described Khan and Hussain as being in the’ premier league’ of firearms suppliers.
Spencer Barnett from the Organised Crime Partnership said:
“Khan set himself up as an armourer for organised crime groups and had no thought for where or how the weapons would be used. Although we have been able to link 50 revolvers to him, I believe he is linked to many more and we are looking into his wider criminal activities with support from West Midlands Police and the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU).
“The dark web is a distribution channel for the purchase and onward supply of illegal firearms in the UK, as well as in many European countries and the USA. We use a variety of traditional and innovative techniques to target and tackle criminals who use the dark web to conduct their business.
“Working with partners, we want the dark web to be a less attractive place for criminals to operate. This, and bringing offenders to justice regardless of how secure they feel hiding behind technology, is part of our wider strategy to tackle online marketplaces.
We believe there are a number of illegal weapons in circulate supplied by Khan and Hussain. To avoid facing a criminal conviction and a possible custodial sentence, we would encourage people to contact their local firearms licensing department should they need any further advice, or to arrange surrender of any weapons or ammunition they no longer want or of which they should not be in possession.”
Anyone with information about illegally held firearms can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.