Salford gun gangsters jailed after officer goes undercover for three years
Thirteen members of Greater Manchester's criminal underworld have been convicted after a police officer's three-year undercover operation.
Arrests were made under Operation Damson after an officer codenamed "John" set up a cafe in Salford as an intelligence-gathering base.
He used it to get to know criminals - some violent - dealing in drugs, guns, stolen goods and contraband alcohol.
Eleven men and two women were jailed at Manchester Crown Court on Thursday.
Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester's interim mayor and police and crime commissioner, praised the "brave" undercover officer, who had "put himself at risk to bring these gangsters and gun-runners to justice".
"John" converted the cafe into a protein and supplement shop. His customers included 45-year-old Terence Hamer who boasted about his drug dealing and introduced him to other criminals.
He also frequented the former Unicorn Pub in Broughton, where he witnessed deals to buy and sell guns, bullets and drugs.
The officer, who had constructed an elaborate back story, himself was sold a shotgun, a pistol, a silencer and ammunition by a family of firearms dealers in Heywood.
Operation Damson, involving 200 officers, culminated in a day of arrests in September 2015, and 24 people were charged with offences.
Greater Manchester Police also seized seven firearms, heroin, cocaine, MDMA, amphetamines and cannabis worth more than £100,000 from properties across Salford.
Ch Supt Mary Doyle said: "The operation has removed seven guns from the streets of Salford and directly stopped countless further criminal acts occurring.
"To remove one gun from the streets is good news, to remove seven is immense."
Jail sentences totalling 135 years were handed down to the 13 people convicted.
- Terence Hamer, 45, of Bury New Road, Salford, sentenced to 15 years for offences including supplying amphetamines and selling firearms
- Steven Luke Smith, 44, of Deyne Avenue, Prestwich, sentenced to 12 years eight months selling a firearm, possessing a shotgun and conspiring to sell MDMA
- Matthew Roberts, 43, of Milton Place, Salford, sentenced to eight years five months for conspiring to supply firearms and selling cocaine
- Mark Wright, 53, of Wally Square, Salford, sentenced to seven years for offences including selling a firearm, possessing an unlicensed shotgun and supplying MDMA
A further six people are due to be sentenced later this month.