Two brothers have been sentenced to a total of 43 years in prison for smuggling illegal firearms into the UK.
In early 2018 Border Force found the stash of weapons and accessories hidden inside an HGV lorry, spread across two trips to Dover and Killingholme Docks.
A National Crime Agency investigation identified that the organised crime network responsible was using corrupt truck drivers to smuggle firearms and ammunition from the Netherlands into the UK.
The first illicit haul included two self-loading carbines and two Glock handguns, a self-loading pistol and a Magnum revolver.
The barrels of the carbines and Glocks had been ‘threaded’ for silencers to be attached.
Silencers that fit each of those weapons formed part of the haul, along with more than 270 rounds of ammunition.
The second bust saw 10 Heckler and Kock pistols found when a trailer was searched after it was driven in an HGV.
Richard Burdett was arrested in the UK but fled to the Netherlands whilst on police bail. He was located with the assistance of Dutch law enforcement partners, arrested and extradited back to the UK in July 2019.
In both cases the guns were individually packaged with bullets, leading the NCA to view them as ‘assassin kits’ that were effectively ready for immediate use once in the hands of those they were destined for.
Daniel Burdett was also tracked down to the Netherlands where he was living at the time. He had fled the UK five years previously after being linked to a drugs conspiracy by Merseyside Police.
He was detained by Dutch police on a European Arrest Warrant on Christmas Day 2019, as he sat down to eat his Christmas dinner at a five star restaurant in The Hague.
Daniel was extradited back to the UK by NCA officers to face trial alongside his brother, and the pair were found guilty of the importation of firearms and ammunition on 19 August at Manchester Crown Court.
Richard was also convicted for the possession of fraudulent UK passports.
In addition, Daniel pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply cocaine in connection to the Merseyside Police Investigation.
Today at the same court, Daniel Burdett received 25 years in prison and Richard was sentenced to 18.
NCA Branch Commander Richard Harrison said:
“Had this significant quantity of lethal weapons reached the criminal marketplace, there is no doubt they would have been used to inflict violence and fear in our communities and put the British public in serious danger.
“The successful prosecution of the Burdett brothers demonstrates the commitment of the NCA and its partners in disrupting the supply chains of illegal firearms and identifying the organised criminals behind them.
“I would like to thank Border Force, the Dutch Police, Royal Dutch Military Police (KMAR) and Merseyside Police for their excellent cooperation over the course of the investigation, which enabled us to bring them to justice.”
UK Border Force have been working closely on a faster referral system for dealing with drugs, prohibited weapons and firearms components that are flown into the UK via a postal hub near Heathrow.
More than 120 parcels of weapons and drugs have been intercepted in the last nine months, and the project – called Operation Gloss – has been highlighted for praise by Home Secretary Priti Patel.
UK Border Force staff identify suspicious packages that come in via international mail and pass them to Essex Police for investigation.
Depending on the individual circumstances of each case, this could result in the people buying these items being arrested or having their homes searched.
Alternatively, it may be more appropriate to resolve matters through a caution or community resolution, or referring them to a diversionary scheme.
Previously covered on the channel is the story of the Tobin brothers.
The Tobins ran a drugs empire that supplied hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, heroin, ketamine and cannabis.
They traded with notorious gangs across the UK until their operation was dealt a fatal blow when police intercepted a van containing 186kg of cocaine – valued at £20m – in the summer of 2018.
In the aftermath they attempted to continue their drugs supply business but police closed in after John was shot in the leg near his Prescot home in February 2020.
This led to police seizing his expensive collection of watches and jewellery in a search of the address, recovered a bag containing 90g of cocaine he had thrown into a neighbouring garden and initially charging him with possession with intent to supply the cocaine recovered.
But work undertaken following the hack of EncroChat by Dutch and French investigators in April 2020
In total, the pair used the communications network to discuss deals involving 73kg of heroin, 83kg of cocaine, 57kg of ketamine and 78kg of cannabis between March and May 2020.
The wholesale value of those hauls would have been between just short of £4.8m and just over £5.5m, with a street value of between £18m and just over £20m.
Alan, 52, of Regency Park, Widnes, was handed a 20 year sentence, while 41-year-old John, formerly of Manor Road, Prescot, was given 19 years and eight months, both for conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, ketamine and cannabis.
Evidence in that Warrington shooting plot showed those responsible were also planning to shoot Charlie Cullen, dad of gangland twins Leon and Anthony Cullen.
The pair are serving huge sentences for leading a gang that supplied cocaine and firearms across the UK.
They had control and direction of weapons including a functioning AK-series rifle, a pump-action shotgun, automatic pistols and revolvers as well as a silencer that was fitted to one of the automatic handguns.
Anthony is currently serving a 27 year sentence, handed to him in 2019.
Formerly of Colemere Close in Warrington, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis. He was convicted of conspiracy to possess for sale or transfer prohibited firearms and ammunition.
Leon was sentenced earlier this year after spending several years on the run which included a stint in Dubai.
He was extradited from the United Arab Emirates and brought back to Cheshire in February before pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply firearms, conspiracy to possess ammunition and conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Previously of Honister Avenue in Orford, he was sentenced to 22 and a half years behind bars.
Another set of brothers handed huge sentences this year are Terence and Anthony Nash.
Both were key figures in Kirkby’s drug trade having been jailed following a police probe that led to the discovery of guns and grenades.
Terence maintained an armoury of lethal weapons that included two revolvers and a sawn-off shotgun.
That arsenal backed up the cocaine dealing operation he ran with Anthony and their associates.
A police raid at a home they used as a safehouse on Minstead Avenue in 2019 led to the Nash brothers fleeing the UK in panic.
They headed to Holyhead, caught a ferry to Ireland and then flew to Spain to escape the clutches of police.
Opening their trial in October 2020, Keith Sutton told jurors: “ Anthony Nash and Terence Nash knew they had to get away from the area and if possible get out of the jurisdiction.
It is the prosecution’s case they fled to Spain to get out of the way.”
But while attempting to lie low, cracks in their relationship began to show and they flew home to England in December, only to be arrested on their return.