Three men plotting to bring a special forces sub-machine gun to Bristol to settle a gangland dispute have been jailed for more than 30 years.
The three men, Kiaran Greenwood, 29, Raymond Ray, 31, and Simon Christopher, 42, were involved in a plot to transport a Sterling sub-machine gun from Bournemouth to Bristol.
Officers believe the gang wanted to bring the military specification weapon to Bristol to wipe out a rival gang in the eastern district of the city.
Kiaran Greenwood, left, and Raymond Ray, right, were jailed for 17 and 13 years respectively having been convicted of possession of a gun with intent to endanger life
The gang were attempting to transport a Sterling sub-machine gun, pictured, from Bournemouth to Bristol in April 2016 when it was intercepted by armed police officers
Avon and Somerset police, working on secret intelligence launched an undercover operation, Operation Talon, to intercept the weapon as it was being transported in a BMW.
According to police, Greenwood, was the ‘patriarch’ figure of a Bristol-based organised crime gang. He arranged for the weapon and ammunition to be transported from the south coast.
He has a long criminal history with convictions for manslaughter, actual bodily harm, robbery and affray. During one sentencing hearing in February 2010 in Bristol Crown Court, Greenwood was told by a judge: ‘I conclude you represent a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm occasioned by further specified offences in future.’
Greenwood was responding to several serious incidents in the Highfields area of Bristol around Christmas 2015 where a number of people were shot and stabbed.
The weapon, the type of which was used by British and Argentinian commandos on the Falklands Islands in 1982, was due to be delivered to Bristol on April 29, 2016.
Simon Christopher, pictured, was handed a five-year jail term having admitted possession of a prohibited weapon and ammunition at Bristol Crown Court
The gun, which can fire 550 rounds per minute, was hidden in a black spots bag.
A team of specialist firearms officers stopped the BMW on the London Road in Warmley, which is in south Gloucestershire between Bristol and Bath.
The three men were sentenced to a total of 35 years by Bristol Crown Court.
Greenwood, 29, of College Court, Bristol, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life. He was handed a 17-year jail term.
Raymond Ray, 31, of Porchester Road, Bournemouth was jailed for 13 years having been convicted on charges of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent.
The third member of the gang, Simon Christopher, 42, of Lydney Road, Bristol, was handed a five-year jail term having admitting possession of a prohibited weapon and ammunition.
At an earlier trial, four men were jailed for a total of 19 years having been caught trying to exchange firearms in Bristol in October 2016. Greenwood, who was on bail for the sub-machine gun charge, was also convicted of this offence.
Detective Chief Inspector James Riccio from Operation Talon said: ‘This was a tremendous example of intelligence-led investigative policing at its best. I would like to thank the team of officers involved in this well-executed cross-border operation which demonstrated excellent teamwork involving specialist undercover firearms officers working in collaboration with officers in Dorset and also from the local policing area in Bristol.
‘There is no doubt in my mind that those who have been convicted had every intention of using this dangerous firearm. It had the potential to maim or even kill others.
The gang also were found in possession of 9mm ammunition to fit the sub-machine gun
‘There is no doubt in my mind, the sub machine gun seized was intended to be used and had this happened, which it could have had serious repercussions, with potential risk for innocent members of the community in the East Bristol area.
‘We hope that our robust action – together with the court’s decision today to put these people behind bars – should provide reassurance to those living in that community.
‘We remain resolute, relentlessly seeking these serious career criminals and removing them from our streets. We also remain committed to locating and seizing illegal firearms in order to prevent their criminal use in and around the city.’