Three men convicted for role in gun smuggling plot

James Hockaday

Three men convicted for role in gun smuggling plot

Three men from Slough and Iver have been convicted for their role in a plot to import 89 lethal firearms into the UK.

In early 2017, the National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police’s Organised Crime Partnership (OCP) established that a criminal gang was involved in large-scale importation of illegal weapons from mainland Europe.

Border Force officers at Coquelles, France, searched a vehicle before it entered the Channel Tunnel en-route to the UK on July 1, 2017 and found 79 viable 4mm and 6mm handguns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Denis Kolencukov, Michael Nicholls and Steven Spires

They were all hidden in specially adapted concealments in engine blocks.

The driver, a Polish courier, had collected the engines at a Polish petrol station from Denis Kolencukov, 24, and was unaware of their contents.

Czech national Kolencukov, of North Park, Iver,  was arrested as he arrived in Dover from Dukirk on the same day..

A diary seized from the courier confirmed previous importations of engines conducted by Kolencukov, all believed to contain firearms and ammunition.

The handguns are banned in the UK but are freely available in Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Slovakia.

Enquiries led officers to the Seaborough Industrial Estate in  Iver on July 3, 2017, where two men were seen removing an item from a shipping container and driving away in a van.

Steven Spires, 36, from The Frithe, Slough and  Michael Nicholls, 26, of Common Road, Langley were stopped by armed officers and arrested.

An additional nine firearms were found in the vehicle and another in the shipping container, bringing the total number to 89.

Kolencukov was charged on the July 3 last year with conspiracy to import firearms, conspiracy to possess a firearm and conspiracy to possess ammunition and pleaded guilty to all charges in November.

Yesterday (Thursday), at Blackfriars Crown Court, Spires was found guilty of firearms possession and Nicholls was found guilty of firearms possession and conspiracy to import firearms.

All three will be sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court on Friday, August 3.

DI John Nolan from the OCP said: “Stopping this supply has protected the public and in no doubt prevented potential fatal gang related shootings. We will continue to target organised networks and disrupt their criminal activity.”


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