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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 July 2006, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Underworld gun gang found guilty
Paul (left) and Andrew Meekey
Police seized 152 guns from the Meekeys
Three men have been convicted for their part in London's largest gun conversion operation, which supplied hundreds of weapons to the underworld.

Andrew Meekey, 30, of Leytonstone, east London, and Guner Salih, 58, of Barkingside, Essex, were found guilty of supplying and possessing weapons.

Meekey's father, Paul, aged 60, of Leytonstone, was also found guilty of possessing a weapon and ammunition.

All three were remanded to be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday.

Mark Gadsden, prosecuting, said: "They [the guns] were supplied to the criminal fraternity - whether to be used in bank robberies or to threaten people, or to kidnap people or simply to shoot them."

This group have probably supplied or been responsible for the conversion of around a 1,000 weapons
Det Ch Supt John Coles

The trio were the last of eight men to be convicted following a three-year investigation into the supply and distribution of guns in London.

The court heard a large-scale weapons' factory was discovered at the Meekey's suburban house and a network of gun suppliers and converters.

Great care had been taken to disguise an entrance to the loft, which acted as an armoury.

So many weapons and components were found that it took 13 hours to complete the search and for a lorry to take them away, police said in a statement after the convictions.

And Salih's gun shop, Moderne Buckles, in Bethnal Green Road, east London, was identified as the hub of a firearms supply and conversion network.

Steven Herbert (left) and Gary Beard
Herbert and Beard were at the root of the operation, police said
Det Ch Supt John Coles: "We think that this particular little group have probably supplied or been responsible for the conversion of around a 1,000 weapons over a period of years."

But he said not all of them have ended up on the streets.

The inquiry, codenamed operation Kilvaxter, began in October 2002 after police identified Steven Herbert, 44, from Rotherhithe, and Gary Beard, 42, from Eltham, south-east London, as converters and suppliers of guns.

Herbert visited Salih's gun shop on a regular basis, the police statement said.

Herbert and Beard pleaded guilty in September 2004 to conspiracies to manufacture prohibited weapons, sell them and cause fear of violence with them.

Two other gun converters and suppliers who used Salih's shop were convicted in December 2004.

Eli Powell, 43, from Bow, east London, was jailed for eight years for conspiring to manufacture, sell and transfer firearms.

Abdul Motileb, 53, from Chelsea, west London, who faced the same charge, received a seven-year prison sentence.

Aine Davis, 21, from Chelsea, who had bought a gun from Powell in October 2003, was jailed for three years for firearm possession.

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