A MAN involved in one of the largest gun trafficking operations seen in British history has been jailed.
Michael Feeley has been branded a ‘dangerous criminal’ by officers from Greater Manchester Police’s Serious Organised Crime Group after being sentenced to seven years behind bars for his connection to the gang running the nationwide operation.
The 47-year-old, of The Deodar in Cramlington, Northumberland, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a firearm in relation to two Skorpion machine guns.
He was sentenced on December 5.
The conviction is one of seven secured by GMP following an extensive investigation which began in 2020.
“This investigation began in 2020 when police in West Yorkshire located a sub machine gun and ammunition hidden under a pillow at an address in Beeston, Leeds, where a man called Kevin Dempsey lived,” a GMP spokesperson confirmed.
Dempsey, 50, of Town Street in Beeston was later arrested, charged, and sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of a prohibited weapon and possession of ammunition.
The firearm and ammunition were sent off for forensic examination which provided DNA that matched the gun to Feeley.
At the time, police were unaware of the Encrochat messages that would later link Feeley to their large scale GMP operation into firearms trafficking.
When the connection was made, police were able to build a case against Feeley.
“Once the encrypted messages were obtained by police, they could see that the firearm police had recovered in Dempsey’s case was one that had been sold by an Organised Crime Group who were under investigation at the time as part of Operation Glassy,” the GMP explains.
“Weeks later, GMP executed a warrant and recovered another Skorpion machine gun from an address in Stockport, which formed part of their recent conviction.
“Other significant finds included two black self-loading pistols, two Skorpion sub machine guns, a taser, and 1,013 rounds of ammunition.
“Michael Feeley’s DNA was recovered from a number of these items.”
On January 12, 2021, Feeley was stopped in his vehicle in Northumberland, where police checks showed he was outstanding wanted in Greater Manchester.
A warrant was executed at his address in Cramlington, and during a search of his house police recovered a mobile phone; a handset similar to many of those who used the encrypted chat service.
When questioned, Feeley claimed he was not involved in the gang, saying he’d only ‘touched the guns’ when his friends were showing them to him.
However the Crown Prosecution Service had enough evidence to build a case which led Feeley to plead guilty.
In a statement the GMP Serious Organised Crime Group said: “Our work doesn’t stop now just because we’ve convicted those responsible for selling these guns.
“Our investigation has already taken six deadly, military grade weapons and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition out of the hands of criminals, but we have several investigations ongoing into other OCGs linked to these weapons.
“We’re actively working with colleagues from forces across the UK, and national and international law enforcement agencies to trace these guns, whilst locking up a string of dangerous criminals as we go, and Feeley is our latest."