10:03AM, Monday 16 March 2020
Two Slough men who conspired to import 95 legal handguns to the UK have been jailed for a total of 35 years.
Denis Kolencukov, 26, of Iver Richings Park Golf Club, Slough, and Steven Spires, 38, of The Frithe, Slough, were both sentenced on Friday at Kingston Crown Court following a joint investigation by the National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police’s Organised Crime Partnership.
Kolencukov was arrested on July 1, 2017, after 79 handguns and thousands of rounds of ammunition were seized by Border Force officers based at Coquelles, near Calais, France, following a tip-off by the Organised Crime Partnership.
The weapons were hidden in specially adapted engine blocks on the trailer of a van which was en route to the UK.
A Polish courier had collected the engines from Kolencukov at a petrol station in Poland the previous day, unaware of their lethal contents.
The courier’s diary had entries detailing six previous importations conducted by Kolencukov, all of which were believed to contain firearms and ammunition.
Phone records showed that, in England, before each trip to the continent, Kolencukov was in contact with Spires.
The level of contact between them increased on his return.
Investigators believe the pair were discussing the imminent importations so that Spires could make the arrangements for their onward distribution.
On July 3 2017, officers with the Organised Crime Partnership had Seaborough Industrial Estate, in Iver, under surveillance and watched Spires and Michael Nicholls, 28, of Common Road, Slough, remove items from a shipping container and attempt to drive away in a van.
With support from armed Thames Valley Police officers, the van was stopped and Spires and Nicholls were arrested.
Nine firearms stashed in a plastic carrier bag in the front passenger footwell were recovered.
Officers discovered another firearm in the shipping container; seven more were recovered in police operations across the UK, bringing the total seized as part of the police operation to 96.
Kolencukov was sentenced to 19 years and two months in prison and Spires received 26 years.
Nicholls will be sentenced at a date to be arranged.
Tony O’Sullivan from the Organised Crime Partnership said: “The sentences handed down to these men today reflect the severity of their crimes and the danger they knowingly posed to the British public.
“Not only were all 95 firearms viable weapons, they were packaged up with thousands of rounds of ammunition. I have no doubt they would have been sold for profit on the criminal market.
“Although the level of gun crime in the UK remains one of the lowest in the world, we know that handguns like these are still the most commonly used firearms.
“They are easily concealable, making them the firearm of choice by criminal groups, who use them to bring fear and violence to streets of the UK. Stopping their onward distribution has protected the public and no doubt prevented gang-related shootings.”
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