A three-year undercover operation by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has resulted in the conviction of more than 20 criminals from Salford for crimes ranging from drug trafficking to possession of firearms.
GMP officers make Operation
Damson arrests in 2015
Those convicted include three generations from a single family, including a 78-year-old grandfather.
Seven firearms were recovered, including a James Bond-style pen gun, together with Class A, B, and C drugs, and a drugs press.
The undercover officer, known by the name of John Sherwood, had opened a small cafe in run-down area of Salford in 2012.
He made it known he was interested in purchasing drugs and guns, and within a matter of weeks was approached by members of the five most prominent organised crime families in Salford.
The "courageous" undercover operation was part of Operation Damson, which resulted in 78 convictions, including 12 people being convicted of firearm trafficking offences.
These included Terence Hamer senior, who promised to arrange for ‘John’ to buy a kilo of ecstasy for £2,500 and also introduce him to criminal contacts.
The undercover officer told Hamer senior that “one of my boys had his gear stolen” and he wanted it “sorted out” by purchasing guns. Hamer put the undercover officer in touch with Michael Conway, a local criminal who had once been jailed for blackmail.
Conway later supplied a .38 revolver wrapped in a green cloth inside a Morrisons supermarket bag in exchange for £1,000.
A few days later, Conway texted the officer, asking “did that help you?” and during a secretly recorded conversation at the Salford pub The Unicorn promised to provide him with “more metal work” (guns) and a quantity of “cherries” (bullets). Conway subsequently sold the undercover officer a 9mm Beretta gun and a quantity of bullets for £3,000.
‘John’ was also introduced to arms dealer Steven Smith, who agreed to sell the undercover officer a self-loading 9mm pistol, a silencer, ammunition and a double-barrelled shotgun for £2,000. The deal was finalised and the guns handed over at a private bar on a farm in Middleton, that was also home to Smith’s 78-year-old father, David who, despite his age was also involved in criminality.
When Smith was arrested as part of a GMP operation in September last year, during which more than 200 officers carried out raids at 25 addresses, investigators found 1.2kg of amphetamine with a street value of £12,000 in a freezer at his home.
At Manchester Crown Court on Monday (November 7) Conway was jailed for eight years after he admitted selling a reactivated revolver and a Tokorov TT 9mm pistol to the undercover officer. He also admitted possessing ammunition.
Conway also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. After an argument with another man at his gym, Conway drove his Vauxhall Corsa at him, leaving his victim needing surgery for a broken leg and wrist.
His brother Thomas Conway was sentenced to nine years and four months in prison after he pleaded guilty to selling the Tokorov TT 9mm pistol and possessing ammunition.
Steven Smith was jailed for 12 years and eight months after he pleaded guilty to three firearms offences and conspiracy to supply MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy. Wright was jailed for seven years after he admitted three firearms offences and conspiracy to supply MDMA and supplying MDMA.
Hamer senior and David Smith are due to be sentenced this week, along with 12 others.