Seven jailed after police discover plot to bring military-grade weapons onto North West streets

  • Report by Rob Jaskowski

Members of a gang from the North West have begun lengthy jail terms after the police uncovered plots to sell military- style guns and to target a man in a revenge shooting.

Members of the National Crime Agency say the machine guns were capable of causing "catastrophic" injures.

The men all pleaded guilty to charges which arose from Operation Venetic – the UK law enforcement response to the takedown of encrypted communications platform EncroChat.

  • Bilal Khan - sentenced to 10 years and 8 months

  • Umair Zaheer - sentenced to 25 years

  • Hitesh Patel - sentenced to 7 years and 5 months

  • Robert Brazendale - sentenced to 11 years and 3 months

  • Jordan Waring - sentenced to 8 years and 7 months

  • Brandon Moore - sentenced to 11 years and 5 months

  • Louis Coleman - sentenced to 6 years and 9 months

Detective Constable Steven Walker, of GMP Salford's Organised Crime Unit, said: "This group of men undoubtedly posed a significant threat to the city of Salford and it's right that they'll now spend a majority of their adult years behind bars.

"The weapons that they were in possession of and the conspiracy they were planning could’ve proved to be a lethal combination and the work we've been able to do with the National Crime Agency has certainly saved at least one life.

"We believe some of the serious criminality we've seen in Salford over recent years has stemmed from the threat posed by these individuals and there's no doubt the community can welcome the fact that these men won't be operating on our streets for decades to come.

"This was a complex case and I'd like to thank our team of detectives from our team tackling organised crime in Salford, as well as partners from the National Crime Agency who brought the encrypted material to our attention to ensure that this group can be brought to justice for the full extent of their offending."

An AK47 found as part of the investigation Credit: NCA

On the 3rd of April 2020 Brandon Moore, 24, and Jordan Waring, 24, survived a shooting in Kersal, Salford. They immediately began plotting with accomplice Umair Zaheer, 34, to hatch an ultimately unsuccessful revenge shooting.

Zaheer, of Somerset Road, Eccles, was known as ‘Assasin’s Creed’ on the EncroChat system, and on 14 April 2020 he sent a list of firearms, ammunition and accessories for sale to Bilal Khan, 33, who was known as ‘Legend Killer’.

The firearms included an AK47 assault rifles and Skorpion and Uzi machine guns – “everything an assassin might want”, Manchester Crown Court heard.

The NCA passed evidence of the revenge plot to Greater Manchester Police who investigated and the men were charged as a result along with drugs offences.