Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 19:08 UK

Man convicted of gun conspiracy

Kaleem Akhtar
Akhtar supplied an "assassin's armoury" of handguns

A 29-year-old man from Manchester has been found guilty of being involved in what is believed to the UK's biggest ever gun conspiracy.

Kaleem Akhtar was convicted at Manchester Crown Court of conspiracy to possess firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

He supplied an "assassin's armoury" of handguns, and ammunition to gangsters across the UK, the court was told.

Akhtar, of Chorlton, will be sentenced, together with six other men, on 2 June.

His co-conspirators all pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to their parts in the operation.

Russian-made guns

Madasser Ali, 30, of Great Horton Road in Bradford, West Yorkshire, admitted conspiracy to possess firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

Paul Wilson, 36, of Liverpool Road, Southport, also pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge.

Asaid Saleem, 27, of Bedford Road, Trafford, was employed by Akhtar to package the guns into the assassin's kits, and transport them to suppliers.

He pleaded guilty to possessing firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life and possessing prohibited weapons and ammunition and possessing ammunition without a firearm certificate.

He also pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge on 10 April.

Brothers Agnius Malcevas, 26, and Edgaras Malcevas, 39, who are both from Lithuania but live in Essex, were responsible for driving the guns up to Manchester to meet with Madasser Ali.

Seized handgun
Overall, this operation uncovered the largest network of illegally held weapons ever seen in this country and included the second largest single seizure of firearms in Greater Manchester
Nicholas Clarke QC, prosecutor

Agnius pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge, and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life while Edgaras admitted possession of a prohibited weapon.

Michael Peake, 44, of Lancing Drive, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to possession of firearms with intent to endanger life, and possession of a prohibited weapon.

The guns, brought from Essex, were found in Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford and Scotland.

Many of them were legal blank-firing weapons converted to fire live rounds, the court heard.

All of the weapons were Russian-made Baikal self-loading gas handguns, blank-firing weapons, which can be sold legally for about 100 in some European countries.

However, every one had been expertly modified and were sold on the street for up to 2,500 each, the jury was told.

During one operation in Manchester police seized 29 guns and 859 bullets, but officers believe that around 234 more guns were distributed in addition to the thousands of rounds which were found.

Nicholas Clarke QC prosecuting said: "This conspiracy involved the introduction of large numbers of lethal weapons and ammunition into the criminal underworld.

"Overall, this operation uncovered the largest network of illegally held weapons ever seen in this country and included the second largest single seizure of firearms in Greater Manchester.

"Had the distribution of these additional firearms been successful the impact on gun crime in Greater Manchester would have been enormous."


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