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Drug lord who masterminded huge distribution network across Shropshire and Mid Wales jailed for 33 years

By Nathan Rowden | Shrewsbury | Crime | Published: | Last Updated:

A drug lord and gun dealer who masterminded a distribution network across Shropshire and Mid Wales has been jailed for 33 years.

Mohammed Rafiq Khan was the head of a huge operation supplying Class A drugs and guns in Shropshire and the Midlands

Mohammed Rafiq Khan, from Birmingham, was at the top of the network which distributed Class A drugs in Shropshire, Mid Wales and across the West Midlands; as well as being responsible for supplying sawn-off shotguns to organised crime groups.

After a huge police operation Khan was detained at Shrewsbury train station in February 2017 where he was found in possession of five mobile phones, over £1,500 in cash and tickets to Dubai.

Investigations revealed more than 100 calls per day were made using Khan’s line to drug users in Welshpool, Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

Part of Kahn's network were Welshpool mother and daughter Anthea and Kareen Bagnall, who were caught with heroin and crack cocaine after being stopped in a car in Birmingham.

The Bagnall's were drug runners responsible for the distribution of Class A drugs from Birmingham to the outer city locations, known as a 'County Lines' network.

They have been jailed for nine years each.

Joel Martin, of Birmingham, was also part of Khan’s drug dealing network and was arrested in possession of wraps of crack cocaine and heroin.

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Officers searched his home address and found approximately £15,000 worth of drugs.

Further enquiries then led police to Birmingham man Mark Jones who was found with bags of heroin he was storing for Khan.

Joel Martin and Mark Jones

Khan, aged 29 from Bordesley Green, and his gun dealing accomplice Michael Harkin, 54, from Yardley, were sourcing the sawn-off shotguns and distributing them to criminal associates across the West Midlands.

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Michael Harkin

Investigations found 68 year-old John Spencer Booth, a registered firearms dealer from Derbyshire, converted lawfully held firearms for Harkin and Khan by shortening barrels and removing serial numbers from shotguns.

A total of 14 sawn-off shotguns were recovered and more than five kilos of Class A drugs were distributed through the illegal operations.

Harkin and his partner Lucy Wilkie were both arrested last October after officers searched their home in South Yardley and recovered three sawn-off shotguns.

A further search conducted at the address of acquaintances Vineeta Kainth and Mark Adkins resulted in the recovery of component parts, including sawn-off barrels and ammunition.

On January 16 this year, armed officers stopped the vehicle Booth was driving and recovered 10 sawn-off shotguns and 250 cartridges in the boot.

A search of Booth’s business premises and home address in Ashbourne revealed a workshop and equipment used to shorten shotgun barrels and stocks.

Numerous cut barrels were found, suggesting this had been an ongoing criminal enterprise.

John Spencer Booth, Lucy Wilkie, Mark Adkins and Vineeta Kainth

Detective Inspector James Mahon, from the West Midlands Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: "This was a complex investigation but has led to significant prison sentences and illegally held guns and drugs being removed from the streets.

“These converted sawn off shotguns had the potential to be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands; while drugs can ruin lives and communities."

Jon Greenwell, from the NCA’s Armed Operations Unit added: “Whilst the majority of registered firearms dealers adhere to their licensing arrangements, there are some who are prepared to buy, convert and sell firearms for criminal purposes. Booth was one of these individuals.

“Using his legitimate business as a cover, he actively sought to convert weapons for organised crime groups to make money. He gave no thought to where or how the weapons he converted would be used and in my mind posed a very real risk to the public.

"Anyone who has information or is concerned about illegally held guns or ammunition to contact their local police, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111".

A total of 10 people were jailed over the operation at Birmingham Crown Court:

  • Mohammed Rafiq Kahn was convicted of conspiracy to distribute firearms and conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was sentenced to 33 years;
  • Anthea Bagnall, 54, of Welshpool, admitted conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was given nine years imprisonment;
  • Kareen Bagnall, 22, of Welshpool, was convicted of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and locked up for nine years;
  • Joel Martin, 31, of Little Hall Road, Nechells, was convicted for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and received 10 years;
  • Mark Jones, 44, of Midland Croft, Kitts Green, was convicted of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and received a sentence of 10 years;
  • Michael Harkin, of Kestrel Avenue, Yardley, pleaded guilty to distributing a firearm and conspiracy to distribute firearms along with possession of ammunition. He was also convicted of a further count of distributing firearms and jailed for 25 years;
  • John Spencer Booth, of Meadowside, Ashbourne, admitted possession of firearms for sale offences and was jailed for 12 years;
  • Lucy Wilkie, 28, of Kestrel Avenue, Yardley, admitted possession of firearms and was sentenced to eight years;
  • Mrk Adkins, 48, of Eastpits Road, Yardley, was found guilty of possession of ammunition and was given a jail term of three-and-a-half years;
  • Vineeta Kainth, 36, of Eastpits Road, Yardley, was convicted of possession of ammunition and was given a two year suspended sentence.
Nathan Rowden

By Nathan Rowden
@NathRowden_Star

Senior news feature writer based at the Shropshire Star's head office in Telford. I like to get out, meet people and tell their stories.

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