Members of an elaborate international gang who smuggled sub-machine guns, handguns and other destructive weapons into the UK have been jailed for 85 years.
Ljudmil Ognjanov, 45, and Evgeni Tanev, 65, drove more than six sub-machine guns and more than 5,000 rounds of ammunition into the country from Germany between January 2016 and March 2017.
A court heard the violent duo managed to get the firearms onto the streets of the UK’s biggest cities, including London.
Ljudmil Ognjanov was deemed one of two ringleaders of the gang (Picture: Metropolitan Police)But the weapons were seized from addresses across the country during a massive 15-month investigation.
Police also stopped a Nissan Patrol vehicle, in which they found weapons hidden by the front axel.
Ross Elliot, 31, Sharriff Dacres, 23, Olatomiwa Sholanke, 31, Ljudmil Ognjanov, 45, and Evgeni Tanev, 65, the latter two both from Hamburg, Germany, were today sent to prison, each for at least 10 years.
Kingston Crown Court heard Tanev and Ognjanov were the ringleaders of the gang and oversaw the smuggling of the weapons, before passing them onto their colleagues.
In total, police found 25 firearms including handguns, six sub-machine guns and more than 5,000 rounds of ammunition after raids in Sheffield in South Yorkshire, St. Albans and Watford, Hertfordshire.
Ognjanov received a sentence of 21 years and seven months and Tanev was sentenced to 22 years and four months in jail. They both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sell or transfer firearms and ammunition.
Police seized weapons and ammo from addresses in South Yorkshire and Hertfordshire (Picture: Metropolitan Police)
The gang tried to hide weapons in this green Nissan Patrol vehicle and its parts (Picture: Metropolitan Police)
A specialist search of the vehicle was carried out in May 2016 after it entered the UK (Picture: Metropolitan Police)
Guns were hidden in the front axel (Picture: Metropolitan Police)
Evgeni Tanev was locked up for 22 years and four months (Photo: Metropolitan Police)Elliot, from Bromley, south-east London, was jailed for 18 years and Dacres, of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, will spend 14 years in prison after they were convicted of conspiracy to sell or transfer firearms and ammunition.
Sholanke, of Croydon, south London, was jailed for 10 years after he admitted the offence.
‘Shoplifter stole shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Call my lawyer”‘‘This was a protracted and complex operation which demonstrates how committed the Met is to reducing the number of firearms entering the UK and potentially ending up in the hands of violent criminals,’ said detective chief inspector Sam Cailes, from the Met’s Organised Crime Command Unit, said.
Det chief insp Cailes added: ‘This operation was successful due to the dedication and commitment of the operational team and the seamless partnership working with our colleagues in the German Police, South Yorkshire Police, Eurojust, Europol, Border Force, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Met’s Firearms Forensic Unit.
Ross Elliot, of Bromley, south-east London, was sentenced to 18 years in jail (Picture: Metropolitan Police)
Sharriff Dacres, 23, was found guilty of conspiracy to sell or transfer firearms and ammunition (Picture: Metropolitan Police)
Olatomiwa Sholanke, of Croydon, south London, was jailed for 10 years (Picture: Metropolitan Police)‘These weapons were intended for criminal use in London and across the UK and the destruction such weapons could have caused can only be imagined. The length of the sentences imposed by the judge shows just how seriously the courts consider these offences.
‘Our hope is that this case acts as a deterrent to other groups trying to bring highly dangerous weapons into our country. We will relentlessly pursue people who are involved in the supply and possession of firearms and bring them to justice.’
Kiril Kirilov, 44, and Dimitar Tsekov, 37, both of Sofia, Bulgaria were acquitted in April of conspiracy to import firearms and ammunition.
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