The Mastermind Mark Richards admitted about importing prohibited handguns and ammunition servicing a dangerous gun-smuggling ring. The Godalming man used Dark Web to smuggle guns using postal service is now jailed for five years.
Aaron Bishop and Martin Beard took the delivery of the guns from Mark. Since they were ordered through the dark web it came to police notice during 2013.
Officers investigated the phones and computers of the 3 and were quickly able to identify Richards was their head and referred guns as washing machines in their conversation.
After agreeing to the conspiracy for importing prohibited Glock handguns in 2016 Mark was charged.
Earlier this week, Birmingham Crown Court convicted Aaron Bishop and Martin Beard for the same crime but they were cleared of importing ammo.
Dawn Cartwright, National Crime Agency (NCA) senior investigating officer told us,”Richards used Beard and Bishop to accept the guns because he believed they were off law enforcement’s radar”.
He added,”It has been a long wait to put these men before the court and we are very pleased with the jury’s decision. We will continue to target and pursue those supplying illegal guns regardless of how long it takes.”
Back in 2013, the National Crime Agency(NCA) combined with US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and US Postal Inspection Service for finding a dark web group who was involved in UK gun trafficking.
Officers got a warrant to search Bishop’s home on October 23, 2013, after he signed for a delivery at an Aldershot postal office on October 4, 2013.
List of items seized,
- Mobile Phones
- Two Laptops
- A Live Shotgun Cartridge and
- Details about a selling website written on a piece of paper.
But Bishop’s statement in the Police Interview claimed he thought it was cannabis. He told he never owned a gun likewise no firearm was found during the search.
Trio’s link was finally found after extensive foreign enquiries, cell site, and telecoms analysis result.
They referred to the guns as “washing machines” and joked about “seeing you in five” – thought by investigators to be a reference to potential jail time for possessing a Glock firearm.
A Bonus addition to the Investigation.
October 23, 2013, while searching Aaron Bishop’s home, NCA Officers recovered a pen drive that was buried in the garden which contained child abusive images.
Contents of the Pen Drive:
- 31 category A child abuse images (the most serious).
- 2 category B images.
- 26 category C images.
In Investigation, Bishop agreed he was “a bit of paedophile”. His ex-housemate had reported a delivery containing 30 9mm live Luger Geco rounds sent from Germany almost two weeks earlier.
Beard also admitted for the production of cannabis.
List of Charges and Jail-Time of each convict.
- Richards, 38, of Cramhurst Lane in Godalming, was jailed for five years and four months for conspiring to import prohibited Glock handguns and ammunition.
- Beard, 38, was sentenced to four years and six months for conspiring to import firearms and a further eight months to run concurrently for producing cannabis.
- Bishop, 39, of Andover Way in Aldershot, was jailed for four years and 10 months for conspiring to import firearms and a further six months to run concurrently for possessing indecent images of children.