Two men have been jailed after a Met police dog led officers to an AK-47 assault rifle.
Umar Pervez, 23, of Midhurst Avenue, Croydon, and Kyal Truong-Clarke, 25, from Beckenham, were both sentenced at Kingston Crown Court yesterday to eight years in prison.
The men had been found guilty of conspiracy to transfer a firearm, conspiracy to possess a prohibited firearm and conspiracy to possess ammunition. Truong-Clarke was also found guilty of possession with intent to supply cannabis.
The Soviet era AK-47 has been the weapon of choice of revolutionaries and terrorists around the world since the 1950s. That it is now being discovered in the back-yard armouries of south London crooks and drug dealers is a development that is causing increasing concern to the local police.
The world’s most ubiquitous assault rifle, the Kalashnikov has been immortalised on the flag of Mozambique, tattooed on the faces of rappers and used in the artwork of thousands of pretentious hipsters. The weapon has been manufactured under licence in more than 30 countries, and it can be seen in video games, movies and TV shows. More than 72million rifles are reckoned to exist around the world, so for some to turn up in police trawls in south London ought not to be too surprising.
But the police’s successful prosecution of Pervez and Truong-Clarke is far from an isolated incident of high-powered weapons being discovered in this part of the capital.
On Saturday, a family enjoying the sunshine at Linear Park, between Catford and Sydenham, found a huge cache of weapons, including an Israeli-made Uzi sub-machine gun, on the riverbed.
More than 10 firearms, some of which had been disabled, were discovered, together with magazines and bullets, as well as items that have been described as potential “explosives”.
At least 10 magazines and a number of individual bullets were also collected from the water.
Such prevalence of these weapons of death and destruction is an indicator of the steady increase in the arms race among criminals across the capital.
The case against Pervez and Truong-Clarke was the result of an police intelligence operation.
According to the Met, it was a year ago, on August 6, 2021, when officers on Mitcham Common saw Pervez carrying a holdall. When he was stopped, he no longer had the bag.
A police sniffer dog was used as part of a sweep of the area and it found the bag, which contained the assault rifle, magazine and ammunition.
According to the Met, “Further enquiries found Pervez had been in contact with Truong-Clarke in the days leading up to the firearm being found, and that Truong-Clarke had made enquiries about how much he could sell the firearm for.”
Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Masterson, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: “I have no doubt that this weapon would have been used to kill or seriously injure somebody on the streets of London and I am pleased that we have removed that risk.
“Tackling violent crime is a top priority for the Met and we remain committed to doing all we can to keep the public safe. We have made significant progress in this area, with a 28per cent drop in lethal barrel discharges compared with this time two years ago.
“The outcome of this investigation is testimony to the tireless work that detectives have put in to bringing these two men to justice. We will stop at nothing to dismantle organised crime groups and the supply of firearms and ammunition in London.”
With figures released by Scotland Yard this morning, they claim that in the period April 2021 to March 2022 there were fewer murders (down by 17per cent), robberies (down 39per cent) and youth knife crimes (down by 21per cent).
Yet the records show that there were still nearly 200 incidents in London in 2021-2022 in which a firearm was discharged. These will include the as-yet unsolved murder of Leroy Mitchell in South Croydon last October.
“We know we have a challenge ahead of us but we will continue to make it harder for violent and predatory people, drug dealers and those involved in county lines gangs and organised crime to operate,” a Met spokesperson said.
“We remain confident in our continued determination to progress the in-roads we have made, along with our partners to prevent and tackle violence and keep our communities safe.”
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