Five Men Jailed For Firearms Offences

22nd October 2018

Five members of an international criminal network responsible for smuggling dozens of firearms into the UK have been sentenced to a total of 85 years.

They were all sentenced on Thursday, 18 October at Kingston Crown Court.

Ross Elliot, 31, (22.03.87) of Tweedy Road, Bromley and Sharriff Dacres, 23, (19.10.94) of Cotterells, Hemel Hempstead were convicted of conspiracy to sell or transfer firearms and ammunition on Thursday, 5 April. They denied the offences, but were found guilty following a nine-week trial.

Elliot was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment. Dacres received a 14-year sentence.

Co-conspirators Olatomiwa Sholanke, 31 (08.11.86) of Castleton Close, Croydon; Ljudmil Ognjanov, 45, (19.12.72); and Evgeni Tanev, 65, (22.10.52), both of Hamburg, Germany were all charged with conspiracy to sell or transfer firearms and ammunition.

Sholanke denied the offence but was convicted on Thursday, 5 April following a nine-week trial.

Ognjanov pleaded guilty on Monday, 22 January and Tanev pleaded guilty on 15 December 2017.

Today at court, Sholanke was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment; Ognjanov received a sentence of 21 years and seven months; and, Tanev was sentenced to 22 years and four months.

All the offences took place between January 2016 and March 2017.

The group were caught following a 15-month investigation carried out by specialist detectives from the Met's Organised Crime Command. Officers uncovered an international gun smuggling ring involving the transportation of firearms between Germany and the UK.

Detectives believe the defendants played a key part in a wider organised criminal network responsible for smuggling guns into the UK.

Tanev and Ognjanov were identified as ringleaders of the gang. They oversaw the smuggling of the weapons, which were then passed on to Elliot, Dacres and Sholanke to be transported and distributed among criminal networks and London street gangs.

Officers from the Met worked with German Federal Police to track the transportation and supply of weapons.

With assistance from South Yorkshire Police, a number of seizures took place at addresses in Sheffield, while Met detectives also recovered firearms from properties in St. Albans and Watford.

In total, officers seized 25 firearms including four sub-machine guns and more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition.

The gang used elaborate measures to hide the firearms and when their vehicle was stopped and searched entering the UK in May 2016, officers discovered a number of hidden weapons.

A specialist search of the vehicle revealed six handguns, two sub machine guns and 1,000 rounds of ammunition had been concealed inside.

Detective Chief Inspector Sam Cailes, from the Met's Organised Crime Command Unit, said:"This was a protracted and complex operation which demonstrates how committed the Met is to reducing the number of firearms entering the UK and potentially ending up in the hands of violent criminals.

"This operation was successful due to the dedication and commitment of the operational team and the seamless partnership working with our colleagues in the German Police, South Yorkshire Police, Eurojust, Europol, Border Force, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Met's Firearms Forensic Unit.

"These weapons were intended for criminal use in London and across the UK and the destruction such weapons could have caused can only be imagined. The length of the sentences imposed by the judge shows just how seriously the courts consider these offences.

"Our hope is that this case acts as a deterrent to other groups trying to bring highly dangerous weapons into our country. We will relentlessly pursue people who are involved in the supply and possession of firearms and bring them to justice."

BKA (Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany) President Holger Munch, said:"These judgments round off a very successful trans-border co-operation of police authorities during which two European instruments, i.e. Joint Investigation Teams and the European Arrest Warrant, were consistently used. The case illustrates that, despite different legal systems, transnational efficient criminal prosecution of organized weapons trade is possible."

Kiril Kirilov, 44, (25.03.74) and Dimitar Tsekov, 37, (08.04.80) both of Sofia, Bulgaria were acquitted on Wednesday, 4 April of conspiracy to import firearms and ammunition.

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