10:53AM, Wednesday 03 June 2020
A Langley man who conspired with two others to import 95 lethal handguns into the UK has been jailed for more than 15 years.
Michael Nicholls, 28, of Common Road, was found guilty in July 2018 of working with 26-year-old Denis Kolencukov, of Iver Richings Park Golf Club, and Stephen Spires, 38, of The Frithe, Slough, to import the weapons into the UK from mainland Europe.
He appeared for sentencing at Kingston Crown Court via video link yesterday where he was jailed for 15 years and six months for conspiracy to import firearms and conspiracy to possess firearms and ammunition with the intent to danger life or enable another to do so.
Spires and Kolencukov were imprisoned for 26 years and 19 years and two months respectively in March this year.
Detective Chief Inspector Tony O’Sullivan of the National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Service Organised Crime Partnership (OCP), said: “Nicholls is the third and final man to be jailed for this extremely dangerous plot to smuggle 95 lethal firearms into the UK. He was a trusted facilitator within the group who was fully briefed on the scale of the operation.
“As I’ve said previously, not only were these viable weapons, they were packaged up with thousands of rounds of ammunition, ready to be sold to whoever was willing to buy them.”
Firearms seized during the operation (Credit: National Crime Agency)
Kolencukov was arrested on July 1 after 79 handguns and thousands of rounds of ammunition were seized by Border Force officers based at Coqeulles, France.
Officers had been tipped off by the joint National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Service Organised Crime Partnership who were investigating the gun smuggling trio.
The weapons were hidden in specially adapted concealments in engine blocks on the trailer of a van which was heading to the UK.
The driver, a Polish courier, had collected the engines from Kolencukov at the Orlen petrol station in Boleslawiec, Poland, the previous day, unaware of their lethal contents.
A diary seized from the courier had entries detailing seven other previous importations conducted by Kolencukov, all of which were believed to contain firearms and ammunition.
On July 3, 2017, OCP officers conducting surveillance on the Seaborough Industrial Estate, Iver, watched as Nicholls and Spires removed items from a shipping container and attempted to drive away in a van.
With support from armed Thames Valley Police officers, the van was stopped and the pair were arrested. Nine firearms were recovered stashed in a plastic carrier bag in the front passenger foot well.
Officers discovered another firearm in the shipping container, and a further six were recovered as part of police operations across the UK, bringing the total seized as part of this operation to 95.
Firearms seized during the arrest of Spires and Nicholls
Detective Chief Inspector O’Sullivan added: “Handguns are the most commonly used firearms by criminals in the UK due to them being easily concealable. This investigation prevented a huge haul of them reaching the criminal market.
“The NCA and Met Police work closely together to reduce the fear and harm these weapons bring to our streets.”
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