Beds, Herts & Bucks

Luton gun smuggling crime gang jailed

Top line Khalid Hussain, Muzaffer Ali, Faisal Mahmood; bottom line Sajid Khan, right Haroon Khatab and a gun Image copyright Eastern Region Special Operation Unit
Image caption From top left, Khalid Hussain, gang leader Muzaffer Ali and Faisal Mahmood. From bottom left, Sajid Khan and Haroon Khatab, with one of the guns smuggled in by the gang

A "dominating bully" who led a gang which smuggled a machine gun, semi-automatic handguns and ammunition into the UK has been jailed for life.

Muzaffer Ali, 39, from Maidenhall Road in Luton, Bedfordshire had denied importing prohibited weapons.

Judge Jonathan Carroll told St Alban's Crown Court the weapons were to be used for "terrorising, intimidating and causing serious injury and death".

Four other men were also jailed for their part in the gun smuggling.

Image copyright Eastern Region Special Operation Unit
Image caption The case against the gang was built up with help from Dutch authorities and National Crime Agency

The court heard the men brought two shipments into the UK in February and September 2016, unaware they were under police surveillance.

Ali sourced the weapons from criminals in Amsterdam while other members of the gang provided security, delivered the firearms and collected money, the jury was told.

In May 2016, two gang members were stopped at the UK border at Coquelles in France and a search discovered firearms hidden behind the dashboard.

The court was shown evidence from mobile phones, automatic recognition data and police surveillance, gathered in an investigation by the Eastern Region Special Operation Unit.

Ali was found guilty of conspiracy to evade the prohibition on the importation of a prohibited weapon and conspiracy to evade the prohibition of the importation of ammunition.

He was told he must serve a minimum of 11 years before he can be considered for parole.

The judge described him as "a dominating bully" who had never had a legitimate income and had an "utter disregard" for the effects the weapons would have when used by criminals.

Image copyright Eastern Region Special Operation Unit
Image caption Police recovered "military grade" weapons, including three Hungarian FEG semi-automatic handguns and 21 rounds of ammunition

Ali's three "lieutenants" were found guilty of the same charges.

His older brother Khalid Hussain, 49, of Maidenhall Road in Luton was sentenced to 19 years, as was Haroon Khatab, 41, of Jasmine Road in Luton.

Sajid Khan, 25, of Manx Close, Luton was sentenced to 18 years.

Ali and Khan were also convicted of transferring a prohibited weapon and transferring ammunition.

A fourth man, Faisal Mahmood, 20, of Maidenhall Road in Luton pleaded guilty to importing guns and ammunition and was sentenced to seven years and 10 months.

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