Force vows to take on organised crime as four locked up over Midlands gun factory
A police force said efforts to combat organised crime will continue after four men were jailed for more than 60 years for setting up a factory.
The illegal enterprise was discovered following an investigation by West Midlands Police's Regional Organised Crime Unit after in a number of crudely converted guns were seized across the country.
The force has set up Operation Target to dismantle such firearms trading.
Chief Inspector Peter Cooke, of the force's unit, said: “This was a significant seizure of weapons and ammunition which were being converted at the Erdington address.
"The four men have been jailed for more than 60 years and this sends out a clear message to criminals that we won’t tolerate organised crime in our region.
“This is part of our ongoing work to combat organised criminal activity including the manufacture and supply of weapons and ammunition across the West Midlands and this will carry on as part of Operation Target.
“We’re focused on those thought to be involved in the highest levels of organised crime across our region."
Aaron Anderson, aged 46, used “rudimentary” methods to make some of the potentially lethal weapons by converting BB guns, airguns and blank pistols and ordered bullets online for them in a “highly sophisticated” operation that came to light in 2019.
At Wolverhampton Crown Court on Monday, Anderson was sentenced to 22 years for conspiracy to supply firearms and conspiracy to supply ammunition.
James Paragon, aged 29, was sentenced to 10 years for conspiracy to supply firearms and conspiracy to supply ammunition. Both had been found guilty following an earlier trial in Birmingham.
Reuben Keay, aged 28, was jailed for 22 years in April after being convicted of conspiracy to supply firearms and conspiracy to supply ammunition also following a trial in Birmingham.
Eric Kitson who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply firearms and conspiracy to supply ammunition back in 2019 was jailed at Stafford in April for seven-and-a-half years.
Anderson ran the firearms factory from a house in Shepherds Way, Erdington, where weapons including blank firing pistols were converted into deadly weapons to be sold to criminal gangs for use on streets as across the Midlands and beyond.
The conspiracy came to light when officers stopped a taxi carrying Paragon, in Mansfield Road, Aston, on August 10, 2019.
Acting on intelligence officers watched Keay leave his home in Curlews Close and walk to the Shepherds Way address nearby. A short time later he left with a red carrier bag and returned home. He then got into the rear of the taxi and left the bag on the seat before getting out of the taxi a short time later.
When the officers stopped the taxi Paragon, of Hamstead Road was in it along with a red carrier bag which contained firearms and ammunition. Paragon was arrested and taken into custody.
Officers armed with a warrant then carried out a raid in Shepherds Way where Anderson lived, arresting him and seizing bags containing boxes of live and blank ammunition, booklets for firearms, a 'gun case' with no firearm but component parts and a bag containing a broken down blank firing pistol.
As a result the National Ballistics Intelligence Service was able to link the items found at Anderson's address to eight other recoveries of weapons and ammunition in Birmingham, Oxford and Hampshire.