A MOTHER and son from Halifax have been sentenced for their part in a transatlantic gun-smuggling ring,
Debbie Jefferson, 34, and son Jamie, 18, from Mixenden, were involved with a gang who hid the firearms in packages along with DVD players and portable radios.
Bradford Crown Court heard during a three-week trial how 12 handguns were sent to West Yorkshire by a supplier in Houston, Texas.
The guns were broken down into component parts and hidden in electrical devices before being sent to various addresses.
But the sophisticated operation came to light in July last year after some of the packages containing parts for two Glock pistols were intercepted at East Midlands Airport.
The court heard the organisers of the smuggling operation – Mohammed Tariq, 33, of Thornton Road, Bradford, and Atigue Arif, 32, of Mannheim Road, Bradford – were arrested as part of the initial police inquiry last year.
But after being given bail they resumed their activities, this time using addresses in Leeds and Pontefract.
But unknown to the conspirators, officers in the United States had turned the gun supplier Stockdale Liburd and a sting operation involving undercover officers, dummy packages and covert surveillance was mounted.
Yesterday Tariq and Arif were given extended prison sentences of 24 years after they admitted being part of the two conspiracies to possess firearms with intent to endanger life.
The Halifax mother-and-son pleaded guilty to the importation of firearms. Debbie, now of Church Street in Shipley, was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after she admitted being involved in the importation.
Her son Jamie, now of Shakespeare Towers, Burmantofts, Leeds, was given a 12-month community order for his limited part in the same offence.
Four other men who admitted being part of the conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life also received lengthy prison sentences.
Mudassdar Iqbal, 29, of Dalby Avenue, Bradford Moor, was jailed for 12 years and Feroz Khan, 24, of Killinghall Drive, Bradford, was sentenced to 10 years behind bars.
Sakawat Shah, 29, of Salt Street, Bradford, and Mohsin Hussain, 29, of Heidelberg Road, Bradford, each received eight year sentences.
Two other men Sultan Akbar, 24, of Baring Avenue, Bradford, and 33-year-old Raees Khan, of Folkestone Street, Bradford, were found guilty by a jury of being involved in a conspiracy to evade the prohibition on importation of firearms and each of them was jailed for seven years.
Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC said it was a chilling to know that seven lethal Glock 26 semi-automatic weapons were still unaccounted for, despite police efforts to track them down.
The judge said the Glock 26 was the weapon of choice for those engaged in serious and organised crime and also terrorist activities because it was designed to be concealed and had a lethal capacity.
The court heard another Glock handgun, together with ammunition, was intercepted in Indianapolis and two other weapons were also recovered as part of the police inquiry.
At one stage during thewoperation it was also suggested that the men wanted to expand their scheme to include smuggling automatic weapons such as machine guns.
Judge Durham Hall branded Tariq and Arif as “very dangerous criminals indeed” and added: “The sentences that I must impose are designed, without apology and without hesitation, to be deterrent, punitive and were possible protective.”
He praised the professionalism, skill and dedication of the officers and civilian workers involved in the case and said the co-operation between the authorities in this country and the US demonstrated the true bonds that bind the two countries, especially in the fight against terrorism and serious organised crime.
Four women and one man were found not guilty of conspiring to import firearms by the jury.