Pakistan-born youth jailed for gun-running in UK

August 3rd, 2008 - 10:06 am ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 3 (IANS) A Pakistan-born youth, belonging to a millionaire family, has been jailed for 20 years after police busted one of the biggest gun-running gangs in the country. Kalim Akhtar was arrested along with six other gang members in Manchester and charged with selling “an assassin’s armoury to the underworld”. Together they have earned jail terms of 86 years. Akhtar’s family runs a multi-million shopping and warehouse business in Liverpool and Manchester. One of his uncles is a MP in Pakistan and a grandfather is a former minister there.

Police said they flooded the criminal underworld with handguns, silencers and bullets, packaged into kits and sold at £1,700 a time. The weapons were brought into the country from Lithuania.

The kits, described as “ballistic bling”, became a status symbol favoured by violent street gangs and used in crimes in Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford and Scotland. Such was the spread of the weapons that they led to a “spike” in gun crime figures, The Independent reports.

Akhtar led a double life, playing the dutiful son with an arranged marriage in the £350,000 home he was given as a wedding gift by his family, and working in his family’s clothing firm empire. But behind his privileged and respectable background, the self-styled “Big K” distributed handguns to gangs and major criminals.

He drove an expensive Range Rover and spent much of his time in nightclubs, keeping two secret girlfriends and living the life of a mobster.

He was recruited into the business by a gangster, Mudassar Ali. They partnered the business with a known criminal Paul Wilson and Assaid Salim of Trafford, Greater Manchester. Paul, who lived in a £1 million house in Southport, Merseyside, bought the guns to sell while Salim packaged them into kits.

Two Lithuanian brothers were the actual gun-runners. The police kept them under surveillance as they ran in the latest batch of weapons and caught the entire gang.

All of the weapons were originally blank-firing gas handguns which can be sold legally for about £100 in some countries. But they had been stripped down and re-barrelled, converting them to fire 9mm bullets, as accurate and powerful as factory-made weapons.

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