A judge said that “very serious violent crime” had been prevented as seven men were found guilty of their part in the handling of a sawn-off shotgun.
Police uncovered the activities of the men after a police surveillance unit observed Callum Haden (20) handing the deadly weapon over to Elijah Skien-Thomas (27) in a Weoley Castle street on 12th February.
Later the same day, armed officers swooped on Skien-Thomas’ flat in Tower View, Selly Oak. A search uncovered the short-barrelled shotgun, ammunition and dozens of wraps of Class A drugs.
Investigating detectives from the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) discovered the transfer of the gun had been arranged by three serving prisoners, using mobile phones from behind bars.
Brothers Ryan (27) and John (31) Blakeney, both serving long sentences in HMP Birmingham, and HMP Wymott inmate Alexander Blake (27) were found to have directed the exchange.
Markkell Facey (24) was contacted as a potential source of the firearm and he approached Haden to hand deliver the weapon to Skeen-Thomas.
• Ryan and John Blakeney were found guilty of conspiring to transfer a firearm by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court, after denying the charges. Today (Friday 7th December) they were jailed for eight years and seven years respectively.
• Skeen-Thomas admitted the same charge and was sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison. He also admitted possessing heroin and crack cocaine with intent to supply.
• HMP Wymott prisoner Blake was also found guilty of conspiring to transfer a gun.
• Facey, from Gregory Avenue in Weoley Castle, admitted being part of the plot.
• Haden, from Fullbrook Grove in Weoley Castle, admitted transferring a firearm.
• Nageeb Almatari (27) from Hurricane Way, Castle Vale, admitted possessing a firearm by driving Skeen-Thomas to the hand-over point. The ROCU investigation also uncovered Almatari’s lead role in a County Lines drug chain delivering crack cocaine and heroin from Birmingham to Derbyshire. He pleaded guilty to supplying drugs with intent to supply.
Blake, Facey, Haden and Almatari will all be sentenced at a later date.
ROCU Detective Inspector Mark Walters, said: “This was a complex investigation following some great work by surveillance officers and West Midlands Police’s firearms team.
“The judge concluded in his summing up that the gun was going to be used in serious gang-related crime. We will never know exactly what the intended use was for the gun but there is every chance this investigation has prevented someone from being seriously hurt or even killed.
“The Blakeneys, Blake and Skeen-Thomas have been linked to gang activity in the Highgate area for many years and have indeed boasted about their criminality in drill music videos.
“We will relentlessly pursue anyone linked to gang crime in order to protect our communities…our investigation has ensured that these dangerous individuals have been taken out of society for a long time.”