A gang of armed criminals, who were about to carry out a “hit” when they were arrested by authorities, have been jailed for a total of 32 years.
The five men, all from the West Midlands, were arrested after their car was intercepted in a Birmingham suburb by a specialist firearms team from the National Crime Agency.
Birmingham Crown Court heard how investigators were forced to act in “fast time” after receiving intelligence the gang had armed themselves with a firearm and other weapons.
Within hours, highly trained armed officers were on the tail of the gang’s BMW in south Birmingham.
As the car passed through the Kings Norton area of the city, several unmarked National Crime Agency vehicles surrounded it and brought it to a halt, before the gang was arrested at gun point.
Inside the BMW were Carl Brookes, 37, from the Northfield area of Birmingham, Jordan Feeney, 26, and 31 year old Robert Clark, also from Northfield.
Officers also arrested Callum Meah, 25, from Stourbridge and Richard Davis, 35, from Rednal.
As officers searched the car, they found a handgun, loaded with ammunition.
They also recovered knives and a sledgehammer from the front passenger seat footwell.
The National Crime Agency’s Birmingham Commander Michael Pope, who led the investigation, told GB News he had little doubt that had they not been stopped, the gang would have gone on to cause one or more people serious harm.
“I think, given the facts of what was found in the vehicle at the point of the arrests, I'm very confident they were a dangerous group.” He said
“We're talking about five individuals, mid-morning in a community in Birmingham, where the weapons speak for themselves.
“I've no doubt that at that time, had we not intervened, somebody somewhere would have come to some quite serious harm.
“We've got a weapon there, got loaded bullets, a bullet actually in the chamber, and an individual wearing a balaclava that's rolled up on his head. I mean, it all points to the conclusion that this group was determined, and were probably at some point during that morning going to carry out an act of violence on somebody somewhere in Birmingham.
The National Crime Agency has devoted increasing resources to investigate gun crime in the West Midlands, which has recorded the highest level of firearms offences in the country.
While most areas saw a reduction in gun crime, the West Midlands saw a spike in offences last year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
A total of 953 firearms offences were recorded in the year to June 2022. That compares to 907 the previous year.
In all, there were 25 firearms offences for every 100,000 people in the West Midlands last year – up from 24 per 100,000 the previous year,.
Outside of London the West Midlands had the highest rate of firearms offences in England and Wales.
Michael Pope said: “I think that for the NCA’s partners, certainly in the West Midlands, it’s a constant threat on a daily basis.
“Weapons are used. We know that goes hand in hand with violence and drug dealing in particular. So we know that for every gun in every group that we take off the streets, there will be another one to replace it. It is a constant threat.
“It's a picture that we step into with the West Midlands police on a daily basis to try to take these weapons off the streets.”
The operation on 13 May last year happened in broad daylight, just yards from where a group of school children were playing.
The National Crime Agency said it was a chilling illustration of the way in which armed criminal gangs operate, with little regard for innocent members of the public.