West Midlands Police have made more significant progress against South Birmingham gangs, with four people linked with South West Birmingham gangs – along with another man from Handsworth – having been handed jail sentences of over 40 years between them at Birmingham Crown Court today (Friday 16th February).
The four men – along with a 16 year old who cannot be named for legal reasons – were part of a group of five jailed for firearms and drugs offences after extensive investigations by West Midlands Police’s Organised Crimes & Gangs Team – alongside investigators from the Force Priorities Team.
Guns recovered in raid
Arrests began on 6th June last year, when police raided a house in Bedlam Wood Road, on the Hollymoor estate in Northfield.
During the 4.15am raid, officers discovered a pellet pistol converted to fire live rounds, an antique .22 single-shot handgun and a sawn-off shotgun in a bag alongside a pink sock containing gun cartridges.
Police arrested Reece Brivitt and a 16-year-old male – who cannot legally be named – during the dawn raid after they were spotted hurling bags from a bedroom window in an attempt to distance themselves from the evidence.
However, the bags containing the weapons were found by officers, and today Brivitt, 24, was sentenced to 7 and a half years in prison, with the 16 year old being ordered to spend three years in a youth offenders institute.
Examination of the sock holding ammunition revealed a forensic link to 21 year old Jameal Scarlett.
Drug related arrest
Courtney Farrell, 21, was arrested for dealing cannabis and cocaine on 26th July, when another warrant was conducted in The Green, Northfield.
Officers guarding the scene of the arrest, spotted Jameal Scarlett driving passed the property in a Ford Focus and the car was found by plain clothes firearms officers outside an address in Epping Close, Frankley later on.
Officers saw Scarlett come out of the house and discard an object and arrested him after a chase down an alleyway. The discarded item was later found to be a shotgun round.
Stabbed by rival gang member
Just over a week later, Farrell was stabbed in the chest in Wareham Road, Frankley, by a rival gang member.
When police raided his home in Sheldon a few weeks later, they seized mobile phones.
Jamael Scarlett, 21 from Dordale Close in Northfield and Courtney Farrell, also 21 and latterly living in Sheldon, were both attracted into gang culture as a lucrative way of life but were today convicted on three counts of possessing firearms and ammunition.
Scarlett was jailed for 16 years and Farrell – who was stabbed by a rival gang member last August in Wareham Road, Frankley – received a 9 year sentence.
The pair were caught after a stream of message exchanges linking them to firearms and organised crime was discovered.
The messages linked them to Jamaal Ahmed from Handsworth, who they agreed to buy a gun from. Ahmed was jailed for six years after admitting conspiracy to supply guns.
Scarlett and Farrell had also previously admitted possessing Class A and B drugs with intent to supply.
Detective Sergeant Alan Teague from the Organised Crime and Gangs Team said: “That’s the beauty of this case. We didn’t find Scarlett or Farrell with guns stuffed into their waistbands or even found guns in their homes. What we did find was lots of message exchanges in which they discussed plans to buy firearms and commit offences – some in coded language – plus photos of them posing with firearms and grime videos glorifying gang culture.
“That enabled us put a compelling case to the jury – and these men have now paid the price for mixing in organised crime circles.”
Detectives uncovered messages between Scarlett and Ahmed – from Westminster Road, Handsworth – revealing how Scarlett was attempting to acquire a firearm after the arsenal from Bedlam Wood Road was seized by police.
The exchanges detailed how Farrell asked whether the gun fired “8 or 9mm rounds” before agreeing a purchase price.
‘Significant fall in firearms discharges’
West Midlands Police Chief Inspector Nick Dale, who heads the Birmingham Organised Crime & Gangs Team responded to the sentencing today and sought to reassure local residents that West Midlands Police was taking positive steps against South Birmingham gangs and that convictions such as these were making a big difference.
Chief Inspector Dale said: “We really understand people’s concerns about gang-related activity that has surfaced in the last year, especially in the south of Birmingham. We’re talking about a small group of people who are causing concern for the wider public.
“We’ve responded with an intensive operation targeting suspects, people who are involved in drug dealing and linked to firearms – and are exploiting impressionable teenagers and grooming them into gangs to commit crime for them.
“It’s involved regular “lockdowns” in key locations with police, armed officers and independent observers on the lookout for suspects and vehicles with gang links. We’ve made arrests, charged suspects, and seized a significant quantity of weapons.
“These are notable convictions against people affiliated to south Birmingham gangs: since their arrest and people linked to them, we’ve seen a significant fall in the number of reported firearms discharges in the area they operated.”
‘Wake up call’
And the Chief Inspector said that others choosing to follow a similar path should think carefully before they do so. He said: “[…]it should act as a wake-up call to anyone who believes gang life is somehow lucrative or attractive: every day these people run the risk of being sent to prison for a long time, or killed or seriously injured through their own actions.”
Detective Chief Inspector Annie Miller from the Force Priorities Team added: “This result should reassure our communities, especially in south Birmingham, that West Midlands Police will not tolerate gun crime and if you carry guns you will be caught and face many years behind bars.”
If you have any information about violent crime, weapons or gang activity in our communities, please get in touch with West Midlands Police on 101 or call 999 in an emergency. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org