A small Organized Criminal Network (OCN) who arranged the importation of guns, ammunition and heroin into the U.K. have been sentenced to a total of 42 years’ imprisonment.
Rocky Thompson, 35 (09.09.85) of no fixed address was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to conspiracy to sell/transfer firearms, conspiracy to possess ammunition and conspiracy to supply Class A drugs (heroin).
Shakeel Khaliq, 34 (07.03.87) of Ardenham Street, Aylesbury was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment after being found guilty following a trial at Southwark Crown Court of conspiracy to sell/transfer firearms.
Yetgin Eken, 47 (01.09.73) of no fixed address, was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment after being found guilty following a trial at Woolwich Crown Court of conspiracy to sell/transfer firearms and conspiracy to possess ammunition.
Mohammed Raqib Tariq, 24 (04.07.97) of Manor Road, Aylesbury was found guilty following trial at Southwark Crown Court of participating in the activities of an OCN. He was sentenced to a 21 month suspended sentence.
All four were sentenced together on July 16.
A trial for Khaliq and Tariq started in March 2021. They were convicted on Friday, 9 April at Southwark Crown Court. A trial for Eken started on Wednesday, 24 May. He was convicted on Wednesday, 26 May at Woolwich Crown Court.
Thompson pleaded guilty to his offenses on February 17, 2020 at Southwark Crown Court.
During the trial, the Court heard that in September 2019, Rocky Thompson made a trip from the U.K. to Istanbul in Turkey.
Over the following weeks, Thompson (the leader of the OCN), was in regular contact with Khaliq, his second in command, and a contact in Turkey. Over this time, they regularly discussed the purchase of firearms.
Within weeks of Thompson’s visit to Turkey, Yetgin Ekin was tasked with transporting the firearms into the U.K. via Dover. He did this by hiding the weapons and ammunition in the back of his lorry before driving up to Thetford in Norfolk on September 20, 2019.
Once the guns were in Thetford, a flurry of calls were made between Thompson, Khaliq and their contact in Turkey. Khaliq then arranged for Tariq to meet him (Khaliq) and Thompson in Aylesbury in order to collect the first shipment of guns from Eken. Tariq was entrusted to make a down-payment of cash for the firearms, ammunition and a quantity of heroin. The OCN then left Thetford to travel back to Aylesbury.
On September 23, 2019, Eken left the U.K. in his lorry.
On October 14, 2019, he returned to the U.K. via Dover; he was driving the same lorry as the previous time he entered the country.
Calls were made within the OCN – and to their contact in Turkey – shortly after Eken arrived in the U.K. Officers now know these were calls to arrange the collection of guns, ammunition and heroin.
Just after 15:00hrs, Tariq once again arrived at Thetford to meet with Eken.
Eken was then seen to place a black holdall in the boot of Tariq’s vehicle. Once he placed the bag in the boot he removed a red/orange bag. It transpired that this red/orange bag contained £9,000. Once this handover was made, officers from the Met, Thames Valley and Norfolk moved into position, before executing three armed police arrests almost simultaneously.
Armed officers from Thames Valley executed a warrant to arrest Thompson and his right-hand man, Khaliq at an address on Witham Way in Aylesbury. The address was being used as a safe house by the two men whilst the firearms were being collected.
Norfolk and Suffolk armed officers arrested Tariq at a petrol station near Newmarket in Suffolk. In the boot of a car they found a black holdall which was zipped shut. Upon opening it, they found six pistols and 126 rounds of ammunition. They also found just over 1kg of heroin with a street value of approximately £100,000.
Eken was arrested in his lorry.
All of the suspects were taken into custody for interview. During his interview, Eken said he knew nothing about the firearms and believed he was dropping off food. However, his mobile phone contained images of the handguns dispelling his claims of not knowing what was being transported.
Detective Chief Inspector Driss Hayoukane, the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO), said: “This was a complex and fast moving investigation relating to firearms being trafficked into the UK. I am proud of the professionalism, dedication and hard work of my team who we were able to build such a compelling case to dismantle this OCN, which was evidently acknowledged by Rocky Thompson who entered a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity.
“The sentencing of this OCN underlines the commitment of the Metropolitan Police and our law enforcement partners to tackle those involved in trafficking firearms. We are steadfast in our determination to keep them off our streets. We were able to seize six lethal guns, ammunition and heroin, just after they were brought into the country. I am satisfied that this operation has kept the lethal weapons from the hands of criminals and this has prevented serious if not fatal shootings within London or further afield.
“This is a good example of collaborative work between different police jurisdictions. This operation would have not been successful but for the help of officers from Thames Valley Police and Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies.”
In an unrelated incident, a man who was arrested carrying two Skorpion machine guns in his backpack close to Chiswick Park Underground station has been sentenced to nine years and nine months’ imprisonment.
David Longhor, 20 (04.07.01) of Villiers Road, Southall, was sentenced on July 21 for two counts of possession of a firearm with intent; two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon; and possession of ammunition without a certificate.
He was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court. He entered a guilty plea at the same court on April 22.
Detective Inspector Jim Casey, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: “To find one weapon like this is rare. To find two at the same time is almost unheard of.
“Luckily, weapons of this type do not rear their ugly heads often, and most of the time it’s thanks to the proactive work Met officers are undertaking to keep lethal weapons out of the hands of criminals.”
On March 1, Longhor was being watched by surveillance officers. Just before 18:00hrs he was seen to leave his home; he left alone and was carrying a rucksack and wearing blue latex gloves.
He took the train to Ealing Station before boarding a district line train to Chiswick Park tube. He was still under surveillance. At Chiswick Park Station, Longhor exited and walked along Bollo Lane, W4. At approximately 18:25hrs, armed officers stopped Longhor on Bollo Lane. He was detained and arrested.
Inside his rucksack, officers found two Skorpion machine guns and two magazines, both containing 20 bullets. Longhor instantly claimed the firearms were not his when officers found them. He was taken to a west London police station for questioning. He was charged the following day.
This week, the Metropolitan Police launch an upsurge in activity to tackle violent crime and firearms offenses in London. Starting July 26, enhanced weapons sweeps, warrants and overt and covert patrols will be taking place across London to curb violent crime in London and remove lethal barrelled weapons out of the hands of some of the most dangerous criminals in the capital.
Detective Superintendent Nick Blackburn, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, who is leading the week of upsurge, said: “Day in, day out, Met officers work tirelessly to remove dangerous weapons from the streets and protect both London’s residents and visitors to the Capital – this week is no different but we are going to be enhancing our resources, focusing on this particular crime type. The more work we put into reducing violent crime and arresting dangerous individuals, the safer I hope the summer will be for all of us.”
The week will start with weapons sweeps taking place at locations across all 32 boroughs of London. The sweeps will predominantly take place in locations where there has been an increase in violent crime.
Other activity during the week will be enhanced by covert and overt patrols led by the Met’s Operation Viper team, supported by specialist firearms and Taskforce officers. There will also be an intensification of efforts to locate wanted suspects.
The Operation Viper patrols will be in response to any shootings, or in response to information, intelligence or tensions arising during the week. The team helps contribute significantly to the firearms seized by Met officers.
In the first six months of 2021, the Met has seized 248 firearms; of which 151 were handguns, three were machine guns and two sub machine guns. In 2020 (calendar year), 443 firearms were recovered, an increase of 107 on the previous year (336 firearms recovered in 2019).
Detective Superintendent Blackburn, added: “Met officers are really good at finding illegal firearms and making sure we take them out of the grip of criminals. This is shown by the increase in seizures we made last year compared with the previous year. Although we are making huge strides, we can reduce gun crime far quicker if members of the public provide us with information about where firearms are being stored and who they are being used by. If people do not want to report to us [the police], they can report to Crimestoppers, which is 100% anonymous.”