Two women and two men have been sentenced to a total of 53-and-a-half years in prison after admitting their involvement in firearms offences, drug trafficking and money laundering.
This follows a police operation resulting in the recovery of one Skorpion sub machine pistol, six Makarov semi-automatic pistols, one Tokarev semi-automatic pistol (loaded), 1458 round of ammunition, seven sound moderators (silencers) and 19 magazines.
The operation also seized one-and-a-half kilograms of cocaine, 107 wraps of heroin, two kilograms of benzocaine and 17.5 kilograms of boric acid, which are used as adulterants when preparing wholesale quantities of Class A drugs. In addition, £42,000 cash was also recovered.
At Sheffield Crown Court yesterday (Thursday 25 January), 50-year-old Violeta Daneva and her 31-year-old daughter Veselina Daneva appeared alongside 44-year-old Sacha Brookes and 46-year-old Jason Shelton Gregory to be sentenced.
Sacha Brookes, of Park View Road, Sheffield, pleaded guilty prior to trial to ten offences of possessing prohibited firearms, ammunition, conspiring to supply Class A drugs, conspiring to sell or transfer prohibited weapons and possessing criminal property (cash). He also pleaded guilty to two further offences of conspiring to supply a prohibited firearm and possessing ammunition following the recovery of an additional Skorpion sub machine pistol and ammunition in Leicester.
He was sentenced to 27 years in prison.
Brookes’ wife Veselina, of Park View Road, Sheffield, pleaded guilty on the first day of trial in September 2017 to ten offences of possessing prohibited firearms, ammunition, conspiring to supply Class A drugs, conspiring to sell or transfer prohibited weapons and possessing criminal property (cash). She was sent to prison for 15-and-a-half years.
Gregory, of Kyle Crescent, Sheffield, also pleaded guilty on the first day of trial in September 2017 to four offences of possessing prohibited firearms, ammunition and conspiring to sell or transfer prohibited weapons. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Veselina’s mother Violeta Daneva, of Park View Road, Sheffield, pleaded guilty on the first day of trial in September 2017 to assisting an offender, namely her daughter Veselina, by helping her move a number of firearms, ammunition, drugs and cash. She was sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years.
The court heard that in November 2016, Brookes was stopped by officers in Bickerton Road, Hillsborough, and arrested for driving whilst disqualified.
What followed was an organised attempt at disposing of incriminating evidence, as Detective Inspector Graham Bulmer explains:
“After his arrest, officers observed Brookes’ wife Veselina and mother-in-law Violeta approach Brookes in the police vehicle before recovering a heavy suitcase and bin bag from a store room within the Regent Court flat complex on Bradfield Road. The items were placed in the boot of Veselina’s car and driven a short distance. She then contacted Gregory, who drove to join them and transferred the items into his vehicle before driving towards his home address
“Gregory was observed by officers driving to an industrial estate off Halifax Road, where the case was discarded and he returned home.
“Our officers seized the case, which was found to contain six Makarov handguns, a Skorpion sub machine pistol, seven sound moderators, 18 magazines and 1402 rounds of ammunition. As a result, Gregory was arrested at his home address.
“Almost simultaneously, Veselina and Violeta were seen removing more items from their vehicle into a holdall and walking into Hillsborough Park, where they were arrested. The bag was found to contain a loaded Tokarev semi-automatic pistol, three magazines, 56 rounds of ammunition, Class A drugs, Benzocaine, weighing scales and £12,950 cash.
“All the firearms have been tested in a laboratory and found to be viable, meaning they are capable of being used. If used criminally they could have had a devastating effect causing serious injury or death.
“Our proactive operation has resulted in an unbelievable quantity of firearms, ammunition and Class A drugs being recovered and prevented the onward distribution to criminals. This is a significant result and I hope the public are reassured by our efforts to tackle organised crime in the county.”
On 25 March 2016, a transaction took place in the Park View Road area of Sheffield in which a separate Skorpion machine gun and ammunition were transferred to members of an organised crime group (OCG) from Leicestershire.
The person supplying the firearm and ammunition was a member of a separate organised crime group based in Huddersfield. Two people from Leicester were seen in the area before driving back to Leicester.
On 29 March 2016, the police stopped and searched a Hyundai motor vehicle in the Rusheymead area of Leicester. On the front passenger seat was the Skorpion machine gun and 25 rounds of ammunition that had been transferred on 25 March.
Brookes was subsequently charged with conspiring to supply a prohibited firearm and possessing ammunition, before pleading guilty at court. A number of other defendants were sentenced to substantial prison sentences at Leicester Crown Court in January 2017.
If you wish to report crime in your area, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously and in confidence by ringing 0800 555 111.