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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Men jailed over 'gun factory'
Mohammed Shabir (left) and Shabir Hussain
The pair used drug money to fund their gun purchases
Two drug dealers who ran a "weapons factory" which produced lethal guns found on the UK's streets have been jailed for 11 years each.

Birmingham Crown Court heard the weapons were found in the hands of criminals as far away as Manchester and Bristol.

Shabir Hussain, 29, of Fladbury Crescent, Selly Oak, Birmingham, and Mohammed Shabir, 31, of Park Lane East, Tipton, used basements at their homes to convert blank firing pistols into fully-working guns.

About 170 firearms were tampered with to allow them to fire ball bearings.

The court heard police smashed the gun ring in May 2002.

'Drug dealing'

Jailing the pair, Judge Derek Stanley told them: "In their converted form the pistols were dangerous weapons.

"They were capable of inflicting serious injuries. If one of the ball bearings which had been inserted in the blank cartridge had struck someone in the face it could have been fatal."

He added: "I cannot conclude that you were converting these weapons in order to pursue crimes connected with drug dealing but it is certainly the case that drug dealers often end up using weapons of this type.

"Anyone who is familiar with criminal activity in this area of the country knows that offences involving the use of illicit guns have dramatically increased over the past two or three years."

Hussain and Shabir admitted possession with intent to supply heroin and cocaine, but had denied conspiracy to convert firearms.

Surveillance operation

The proceeds of their drug operation were used to fund their gun purchases, the court was told.

They were jailed for five years for the drugs offence and six years for the firearms offence, to run consecutively.

West Midlands Police launched a surveillance operation after one of the pair's suppliers became suspicious about the large number of guns he had sold to the defendant.

Outside court, Detective Superintendent John Hesketh said he was "absolutely delighted" with the verdict.

He said that Italian gun manufacturer Bruni had since stopped supplying a particular model of blanks-firing pistol to the UK because of the way in which its guns were being abused.


SEE ALSO:
Operation to tackle gun crime
25 Sep 03  |  Manchester
Waging war on Bristol's drug dealers
30 Jul 03  |  Bristol/Somerset


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