A 29-year old man from Bordesley Green, who supplied dozens of guns and ammunition to criminals in Birmingham was described as being involved in the ‘Premier League’ of gun runners. Those weapons were used in various organized crimes by gangs across the UK.
Umair Khan used the online alias ‘cheeko412’ to purchase ammunition, guns, and explosives from the dark web. This included over 50 revolvers and over 1,600 bullets rounds of ammunition with all this happening between August 2014 to February 2017.
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Reports from the Birmingham Crown Court revealed that Khan sold two of the illegally purchased pistols to 16-year-old boys.
Khan’s arrest came on February 20, 2017, after a joint organized Crime Partnership was undertaken by the National Agency and Metropolitan Police Service. Officers from the National Crime Agency caught Khan trying to order a hand grenade from an undercover agent who had posed as a seller which was then arranged to be delivered to a Birmingham address.
They intercepted the package and replaced the grenade with a non-explosive device before allowing it to make way to the address.
Four revolvers alongside 15 rounds of ammunition were then recovered after his home was raided by officers.
An officer from the Organized Crime Partnership, Spencer Barnett speaking after the operation said:
“Khan set himself up as an armorer for organized 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 Organized Crime Unit (ROCU).”
He continued by saying:
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 circulating 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 arrange the surrender of any weapons or ammunition they no longer want or of which they should not be in possession.
Further reports also reveal that Khan tried to purchase assault rifles in addition to the huge quantities of custom made ammunition that he was buying from the online dark web marketplace before he was arrested. He would use them together with antique revolvers and other weapons that he bought from auction houses and also licensed firearms dealers.
He made arrangements for the items to be imported to the UK from an ammunition manufacturer on the dark web.
The package was then disguised as a parcel and sent from Sweden in a sophisticated vehicle concealment.
He would then sell the firearms together with full ammunition to gangs in the UK upon their arrival. An investigation by the West Midlands Police Department led to the recovering on a weapon which was fully loaded and also in the possession of a pro in the drug business who was stopped in a vehicle after it was reported stolen.
Nazim Hussain, of Bromford Lane, West Bromwich, believed to be Khan’s accomplice was also arrested the next day. Reports show he had been assisting Khan in looking for places where they would store the weapons and ammunition.
He was the one managing deliveries from the dark web to various addresses in Birmingham and then seeing to it that they were signed for by others before being later sent to Khan.
Khan has however been handed a 22-year jail sentence with Hussain getting nine years. He had also previously admitted to selling prohibited weapons and ammunition, importation of ammunition and attempting to import a grenade.
Judge Peter Carr, who handed the sentences at the Birmingham Crown Court stated that, purchasing guns had cost Khan over £50,000, and that the grenade he bought was addressed to a woman with two children with the dangers “all too apparent.”
He then described the two as being in the ’Premier League’ of firearms suppliers.