birmingham
From top left clockwise, Michael Harkin, Lucy Wilkie, Joel Martin, Mark Jones, Anthea Bagnall, Kareen Bagnall, Vineeta Kainth and Mark Adkins NCA

A Birmingham gang has been jailed for more than 100 years for selling shotguns and class A drugs in the West Midlands.

Gun runners Mohammed Khan, 29, and Michael Harkin, 54, supplied sawn-off shotguns to organised crime groups across the region, fuelling gang violence.

Khan, from Bordesley Green, was jailed for 33 years. Harkin, from Yardley, was jailed for 25 years.

The pair were caught after a joint operation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit.

Khan was also uncovered as the boss of an illegal drug dealing network that distributed class A drugs across the West Midlands. Eight of his accomplices were locked up at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday (1 November).

The wide-ranging police investigation saw a total of 14 sawn-off shotguns recovered and more than five kilos of Class A drugs were found to have been distributed by the gang.

A court heard how Khan and Harkin bought modified guns from John Booth, a 68-year-old registered firearms dealer from Derbyshire.

Booth converted lawfully purchased shotguns at his workshop in Ashbourne by shortening the barrels and removing the serial numbers.

Harkin and his partner Lucy Wilkie were both arrested last October after officers searched their home in South Yardley and recovered three sawn-off shotguns.

A further search conducted at the address of fellow gang members Vineeta Kainth and Mark Adkins resulted in the recovery of component parts, including sawn-off barrels and ammunition.

Then in January of this year, armed officers stopped the vehicle Booth was driving and recovered 10 sawn-off shotguns and 250 cartridges in the boot. A search of his business premises and home address in Ashbourne revealed a workshop and equipment used to shorten shotgun barrels and stocks. It was littered with cut barrels, police said.

The next arrest was Joel Martin, who was part of Khan's drug dealing network and whose was found to be hiding about £15,000 worth of drugs at his home.

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Michael Harkin and Mohammed Khan were both jailed for sourcing and selling sawn-off shotguns NCA

Further enquiries led police to Mark Jones, who was found with bags of heroin he was storing for Khan; while mother and daughter duo Anthea and Kareen Bagnall were caught with heroin and crack cocaine after being stopped in a car in Birmingham.

Police say Jones, Kareen and Anthea Bagnall were drug runners responsible for the distribution of Class A substances from Birmingham to outer city locations, known as a 'county lines' network.

More than 100 calls per day were made using Khan's line to drug users in Welshpool, Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

The investigation culminated when Khan was detained at Shrewsbury train station in February 2017. He was found in possession of five mobile phones, over £1,500 in cash and tickets to Dubai.

Detective Inspector James Mahon, from the West Midlands Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: "This was a complex investigation but has led to significant prison sentences and illegally held guns and drugs being removed from the streets.

"These converted sawn-off shotguns had the potential to be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands; while drugs can ruin lives and communities."

Jon Greenwell, from the NCA's Armed Operations Unit, added: "Whilst the majority of registered firearms dealers adhere to their licensing arrangements, there are some who are prepared to buy, convert and sell firearms for criminal purposes. Booth was one of these individuals.

"Using his legitimate business as a cover, he actively sought to convert weapons for organised crimegroups to make money. He gave no thought to where or how the weapons he converted would be used and in my mind posed a very real risk to the public."

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The workshop used by registered firearms dealer John Booth to modify shotguns for criminal use NCA