“I’m ready to got this paper g you with me… my pockets looking kinda tight and I’m stressed yo munky let me get the vest.” These lyrics from the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Gimme The Loot” off his classic album, Ready To Die, were used in a text message from Michael Defraine to his partner, Harry Shilling. Yesterday, the two men (pictured above) were sentenced to decades behind bars for heading the largest known gun smuggling operation in the United Kingdom. Shilling will be sitting for 30 years and Defraine was sentenced to 27 years. Both sentences were bolstered with five-year “extended licences” (a judgement reserved for offenders deemed a serious danger to the public).
Shilling, Defraine and others were convicted of smuggling more than 30 assault rifles and submachine guns worth £100,000, as well as ammo, into the UK from France. The supplier was reportedly the same source responsible for the weapons used in the tragic Charlie Hebdo terror attacks. The group intended to sell the guns to drug dealers and gangsters according to sources. According to The Independent:
Duncan Atkinson QC told jurors that the gang had planned to reap huge profits by buying guns, including previously deactivated assault rifles, at “shockingly low” prices in the Czech Republic or Slovakia and selling them on in Britain.
Each of the 22 Czech assault riles, similar to an AK47, would have fetched up to £4,000, while the “sought after” Skorpion machine guns, originally developed for use by Czech special forces, would have netted £3,500 apiece.
Unbeknownst to the crew, they were under heavy surveillance by the National Crime Agency (NCA). The agency listened in on coded conversations discussing the shipment and heard other detail. The guns were seized last year as a ship came into England. The Guardian reports:
The Albernina vessel arrived with the “evil” cargo near Cuxton Marina, outside Rochester in Kent, on 10 August last year. But the National Crime Agency had the plotters under surveillance and swooped to seize the cache before it could be passed into the wrong hands.
Also convicted and sentenced were skipper David Payne, Richard Rye, and Christopher Owens. They all pleaded guilty and were sentenced to between five and 19 years in jail for the roles they played.