Welshpool mum and daughter who acted as runners for drug gang are jailed for nine years

Reporter:

Keri Trigg

A mum and daughter from Welshpool who acted as runners for a prolific West Midlands drug gang have been jailed for nine years each.

Anthea Bagnall, 54, and her 22-year-old daughter Kareen Bagnall were jailed alongside drug lord Mohammed Rafiq Khan, 29, from Birmingham, and seven other associates at Birmingham Crown Court last week.

Kareen, the youngest of the defendants, was pictured posing in a judge’s wig while she was on bail, posting it to Facebook with the caption “one day”.

The court heard how Khan and 54-year-old Michael Harkin from Yardley were sourcing weapons and distributing them to criminals across the West Midlands.

Khan and Harkin received the longest sentences for their involvement, which was busted in a joint investigation by the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) and the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Khan was jailed for 33 years and Harkin 25. The other eight defendants received terms ranging from 12 years to a two-year suspended sentence.

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

Ringleader Khan was also the head of a network which distributed class A substances across the region, using Anthea and Kareen as runners alongside 44-year-old Mark Jones of Kitts Green, Birmingham.

The three were responsible for distributing class A drugs from Birmingham to outer city locations, known as a County Lines network.

Anthea and Kareen were caught out when their car was stopped in Birmingham and crack cocaine and heroin were discovered in the vehicle.

The court heard that over 100 calls a day were made from Khan’s phone to drug users in Welshpool, Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

Beginning in October 2016, a series of busts saw 14 sawn-off shotguns recovered alongside ammunition and five kilogrammes of class A substances.

The investigation culminated when Khan was detained at Shrewsbury train station in February 2017. He was found in possession of five mobile phones, more than £1,500 in cash and tickets to Dubai.

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: “While 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.”

Email:

keri.trigg@nwn.co.uk

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