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Two Porsche cars on the drive with cocaine in the boot found when police raided gangster's Denton home

The last member of the gang responsible for the UK’s biggest gun-running plot has been jailed.

Adrian Gonzalez was caged for 25 years.

In total, members of the gang have been locked up for almost 200 years combined.

During Greater Manchester Police’s (GMP) investigations, a property in Denton used by the gang was raided.

Officers found two Porsche cars on the driveway, one with more than a quarter of a kilo of cocaine in the boot.

In December, six men were jailed for a collective 174 years for drugs and firearms trafficking which experts claim to be among the very highest levels ever encountered by UK law enforcement.

In a joint investigation between GMP and the National Crime Agency (NCA), the gang, who were attempting to expand their criminal network internationally, were taken down when messages from their encrypted mobile phones were infiltrated.

The conspiracy began to unravel at the beginning of May 2020. Detectives kept watch on the gang which was involved in the supply of industrial volumes of drugs and the sale of firearms – including sub-machine guns, estimated to be in the range of almost £150,000.

Arrests and searches of gang members' homes uncovered pills, cocaine, ammunition and two sub-machine guns, two self-loading pistols, two magazines containing ammunition, a bag of 1,098 rounds of ammunition, cocaine, large quantities of amphetamine found in a freezer, and a suitcase containing £616k cash.

At another address in Reddish a hand-written account list, cash-counting machines, a vacuum packing machine, and documents for the lease at a warehouse in Stockport for a fake company the gang planned to use as a cover for importing drugs and firearms were discovered.

Police arrested member Sean Hogan at an address Denton. 

Officers recovered a taser, a vacuum packing machine, large quantities of cash in different currencies, and high value items. 

Parked on his drive were two Porsches in which officers discovered quarter of a kilo of cocaine.

Speaking in court, the firearms expert in the case said: “The evidence I have considered in this case leads me to the opinion that the organised crime group acquired 52 Scorpion machine pistols (in more than one batch) and again, having kept a small number for their own use, by May 2020 had sold at least 48 of these machine pistols to various criminal associates.

“There is evidence to suggest that the Skorpion sub-machine guns were being offered for sale for between approximately £9,000 and £15,000 each.

“These quantities of fully automatic firearms with compatible ammunition would put this operation, to my knowledge, among the very highest level of criminal firearm trafficking ever encountered by law enforcement in the UK.”

Following a six-week trial at Minshull Crown Court, the jury found the five defendants:

Omar Malik, 39, was found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to supply cocaine, MDMA and amphetamine. He has been jailed for 38 years.

Daniel Gibbons, 39, was found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to supply cocaine and amphetamine. He was found not guilty of conspiracy to supply MDMA. He has been jailed for 28 years.

Daniel Waters, 42, was found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, MDMA and amphetamine, two counts of possession of a prohibited firearm and possession of ammunition. He has been jailed for 26 years and five months.

Andrew Cooney, 40, was found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to supply cocaine. He pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply cocaine. He was found not guilty of conspiracy to supply MDMA and amphetamine. He has been jailed for 27 years.

Sean Hogan, 39, was found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and being concerned in the supply of cocaine and ketamine. He pleaded guilty to possession of a prohibited weapon (Taser). He has been jailed for 24 years.

Conor Sandlan pleaded guilty at the commencement of the trial to conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to supply cocaine, MDMA and amphetamine. He has been sentenced to 30 years and five months.

Gonzalez pleaded guilty at an earlier court hearing to conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to supply cocaine, MDMA and amphetamine.

Detective Superintendent Joe Harrop, head of serious organised crime at GMP, said: “These were very dangerous men who only cared about making vast amounts of money. They didn’t care how lethal their commodities were or the consequences for the communities and innocent people who would be irrevocably affected by this.

“They thought they were untouchable but working with colleagues from the NCA and the CPS North-West Complex Case Unit, we were able to systematically dismantle the group and show them this wasn’t the case.”

NCA operations manager Adrian Barnard said: “These men belonged to a dangerous network of criminals involved in the transfer of firearms and supply of drugs in the north west and across the UK.

“It is chilling to see the volume of lethal weapons this criminal group moved, and we have seen the devastation that these kind of firearms can cause in the north west recently. However, gun crime in the UK continues to be relatively low compared to mainland Europe, and suppressing their availability to criminals is a priority for the NCA.”

Alan Richardson, senior crown prosecutor for CPS North West’s Complex Casework Unit, said: “This was a highly developed operation and the largest one I have dealt with in my career.

“The men used sophisticated methods to try to evade prosecution including the use of a safe house to store drugs and weapons and the use of Encrophones, to prevent their communications being accessed.

“I would like to thank and praise the professionalism of everyone who has helped to bring these men to justice."

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