http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/mos...aikal-Britains-favourite-killing-machine.html Cliffs: stop complaining, the brits have to pay almost $2000 for a makarov Sunday, Jan 11 2009 This Afternoon 8°C This Evening 7°C 5-Day Forecast The usual suspect: How the Baikal became Britain's favourite killing machine By Adam Luck Last updated at 10:00 PM on 10th January 2009 * Comments (0) * Add to My Stories This is a Baikal IZH-79, exhibit 'MAJ/4' in a recent crown court trial... and the new weapon of choice on our gunravaged streets. Live traced its alarmingly smooth passage from Russia to east London to reveal the macabre popularity of Britain's favourite killing machine Baikal IZH-79 The Baikal IZH-79: The handgun can be bought for as little as £1,200 from gangs in the UK's largest cities From where the detective-sergeant is standing – shielded from the bright summer sunshine in a doorway set back from Romford Road’s halal chip shops and East European-run car-wash forecourts – he can still clearly see the entrance to the Shah Jalal Mosque. He watches closely as the faithful start to spill out of the Islamic centre after prayers. They trust their fate to God as they duck in and out of the traffic that clogs the arteries of Manor Park, a rundown suburb a couple of miles from what will be London’s 2012 Olympic Village. DS Trevor Gardner’s targets are easy to spot. They are two young black men among a largely Bangladeshi congregation. Their swagger and bling are in sharp contrast to the traditional worshippers’ outfits of kurta and kufi. Now gathering pace, the two leave their fellow worshippers behind before crossing the street and turning into Carlyle Road, unaware they are being shadowed by the detective. A few minutes later they reach the corner of the dog-leg road. They turn left and left again before stopping at the front door of number 106. They pause momentarily before disappearing through the door of the Victorian terraced house. The property is identical to its neighbours bar the unkempt front garden. Gardner now waits for about 15 minutes from his new vantage point. Then one of the pair saunters out of the house carrying a package in a blue plastic bag. Confident of his anonymity, he glances cursorily in both directions before approaching a silver Mercedes people carrier that’s just parked up. He ducks inside and 30 seconds later emerges without the bag. Ricky Denty Ricky Denty, 28, was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to possession of firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life The driver pulls away almost immediately. Ricky Denty, a member of a south London street gang called the Muslim Boys, is tall, black, well-muscled and shaven-headed and wears a smart leather jacket with a hoodie. He turns the vehicle into the traffic flowing along Romford Road where, just before hitting the Stratford one-way system, he finds he can go no further; a police car has pulled across his bows. Other police vehicles quickly congregate. Nine officers from the Met’s SO19 armed support unit, dressed in black and kitted out with Heckler & Koch carbines, swarm around him. They shout clear instructions to Denty to get out of the car. He complies; he is spread across the bonnet and frisked while officers begin a search of the vehicle. The package is found in a hidden compartment above the wheel arch of the Mercedes. Gardner’s colleagues warily remove layer after layer of tightly wrapped plastic and bubble wrap to reveal two silencers, 100 rounds of Czech and South African ammunition and two 9mm Baikal IZH-79 handguns. Black and compact, each gun fits comfortably in the palm of a teenager’s hand and weighs, unloaded, a modest 2lb. A Baikal can be bought for as little as £1,200 from gangs in the UK’s larger cities. With the silencer, it can be used discreetly at close quarters, meaning targets rarely escape with their lives; it is so cheap, so reliable and so accurate that it has completely changed British gang culture and street crime. Indeed, the police are unsurprised with their find. The Baikal is now so ubiquitous it’s known to both sides of the law simply as the ‘hitman kit’. In the court case that follows his arrest, Denty pleads guilty to possession of a firearm and is jailed for six years. The file is added to the growing pile of identical offences. Baikals are flooding our streets. In its 2008 report on the threat of organised crime to the UK, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) noted that since 2006 the seizures of guns in the country have increased both in number and in volume of weapons, and ‘of the seizures, there has been an increased trend of Baikal gas pistols converted to fire 9mm ammunition entering from Lithuania’. Denty’s brace of Baikals ended their lives in August 2007 as exhibits labelled MAJ/2 and MAJ/4 in court No 5 of Snaresbrook Crown Court, east London. Designed to fire teargas pellets, they were produced in Russia, made lethal in Lithuania, smuggled into the UK by a well-run Eastern European gang – one gang member was so well enmeshed in British life he claimed incapacity benefit and had a series of eye operations on the NHS – and received by a British divorcee looking for some pin money. The story of Denty’s Baikals – pieced together here for the first time – shows only too well how they have become as much a part of the fabric of British criminal life as crack cocaine and house burglary... FROM RUSSIA... Izhevsk is 2,500 miles east of Manor Park; draw a line from London to Izhevsk and Moscow appears at the 1,800-mile mark. It is a drab, cold backwater in the Urals, scarcely evolved from its communist past; there is a Lenin Street, a Karl Marx Street, a statue of Lenin on Soviet Street. Old buses, trams and Lada, Volga and Moskvich cars rattle and cough through the city. There is only the occasional gleaming black jeep. Little of the money and glamour that has arrived in other parts of Russia with the explosion of capitalism has made its way to Izhevsk. And yet this grey, decaying outpost has a place in history. It is the centre of Russia’s arms industry, the birth place of the AK-47. Some 80 per cent of Russian guns are made here. On this gloomy November day, President Dmitry Medvedev has dropped in (his visit has closed all airspace around the city for several hours). Hundreds of armed militia are on the streets as he reviews progress in the arms industry; he is banking on growth here to pull Moscow out of recession. The two arms factories that produce the guns dominate the city. One, the Seventies industrial block that houses Izhevsky Mekhanichesky Zavod, is the home of the Baikal. Denty’s guns were made here but were never intended to kill. After World War II, Izhevsky developed the Makarov pistol for the Soviet military and police. Production of Makarovs ceased in the early Nineties; the Baikal is a facsimile of this gun, with one modification: the barrel was to fire 8mm gas cartridges instead of bullets. In the anarchy that gripped Russia after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Baikals were used to ward off muggers or rapists with CS gas cartridges. It was not long, however, before the world’s leading gangsters realised that with an easy modification, the Baikal could be an ideal substitute for the Makarov. ... TO LITHUANIA On a potholed backstreet in Alytus, a small town in southern Lithuania, there is a row of lock-up garages with double wooden doors. They look rarely used but in fact they were the secret hub of a network of makeshift factories where, until recently, one of Lithuania’s most feared criminal syndicates, the Baubliai gang, converted Baikals into deadly weapons. Most guns manufactured specifically to fire gas cartridges are made of cheap components and aren’t strong enough to fire real ammunition; the Baikal, though, is made of solid steel. As well-established drug dealers, the Baubliai gang already controlled a criminal network that stretched from Russia to the UK. It was a simple step to add guns to their exports. Baikal pistols cannot be obtained legally in Lithuania but the gang bought vast quantities over the counter in Russia and neighbouring Latvia, where they are readily available. When bought in bulk (up to 1,000 pistols at a time) they cost between £8 and £10 each. Only the senior members of the gang had the necessary equipment and expertise to rebore the pistols so they could fire 9mm Czech and South African ammunition. The barrels were also threaded to fit silencers, a demand of British criminals who were particularly keen to get their hands on the new product. In Britain, where hand guns are outlawed, criminals had to rely on either crude makeshift weapons or incredibly expensive, hard-to-source pistols. The arrival of the Baikal changed all that – gang members such as Denty could now get hold of a reliable, cheap, deadly weapon with relative ease. The Alytus production line converted countless weapons before a major joint operation last year by the Lithuanian police and secret services, SOCA and the Metropolitan Police smashed the ring in a dramatic armed raid. It led to the arrest of six men, including Remigijus Laniauskas. In an earlier British court case of three other Lithuanian gun-runners, Laniauskas was named as the head of an organised crime group that had been supplying guns to the UK. With his shaven head, hard-lined features and bull neck – and his Soviet army training – Laniauskas presents a chilling figure, a man who now stands accused in Lithuania of bringing death to British streets. ... TO BRITAIN The only thing that made the car transporter and its two cars stand out at Thurrock Services on the M25 was its Lithuanian number-plates. Police watched as two men got out of a car and walked over to the driver of the transporter. Romas Dumbliauskas Blind Lithuanian Romas Dumbliauskas was a senior member of the Alytus syndicate They knew they were Lithuanian nationals Romas Dumbliauskas, 32, and Bernardas Kudarauskas, 32. Despite being blind, the thick set, softly spoken Dumbliauskas was a senior member of the Alytus syndicate. He says he lost his sight in a car accident but during an earlier trial for gang rape at which he was acquitted, one witness said he was blinded during a gang shoot-out in Amsterdam. He claimed incapacity benefit, had a series of eye operations on the NHS and went on to claim legal aid. His fellow British resident Kudarauskas was his trusted lieutenant, as well as his eyes and ears. After a short discussion with the driver of the transporter, the pair returned to Dumbliauskas’s home in Trader Road, Beckton, east London, where he lived with his wife and daughter. Three days later, police saw the pair, along with another man, driving to Carlyle Road, Manor Park. Armed police pulled them over. The gang were on their way to deliver their deadly order. In the car detectives discovered a bag under the front seat, inches from the feet of the third man, Danius Barzdaitis. The bag contained two Baikal pistols, two silencers and 72 rounds of Czech and South African 9mm ammunition. The guns had been smuggled into the UK hidden inside vehicles. Dumbliauskas’s cover as a car dealer allowed him to import vehicles in which he hid weapons. Some of the guns were smuggled inside car batteries that had been lined with lead. This ensured they did not show up on X-rays. The transporters were driven across Europe by ‘mules’ with clean driving licences and no criminal records. The gang masters also paid private individuals already travelling to the UK to act as couriers. But the guns still had to go through one further person. In order to distance themselves from the hardware, the gang ensured they were sold on to a ‘fence’ in the UK, who then sold them on the streets. ... TO MANOR PARK At 5.30pm on an August afternoon, a black Vauxhall Corsa with two men inside pulls up in front of 106 Carlyle Road. Out of the house comes a dishevelled-looking woman who goes up to the car and talks to one of the men. He gets out and accompanies her into the house. Fifteen minutes later, the front door opens again and the man walks out, gets back into the car and drives off. At 9pm the same car returns to Carlyle Road for a second visit. Minutes later the driver gets back in and drives off in the same direction that Denty had taken a few months before. A hidden armed police team wait until the driver reaches nearby Romford Road before making the move and, just yards from where Denty was arrested, they pull over the car. Glenn Jacobs Glenn Jacobs admitted possession of ammunition with intent to endanger life and was sentenced to four years in prison in 2007 Inside are Glenn Jacobs, who handles guns for the notorious Peckham Boys, and his driver Sammy Idemudia. Although Jacobs manages to escape in the chase that follows, police recover 55 rounds of 9mm Czech Sellier & Bellot and South African Pretoria Metal Pressing ammunition that Jacobs throws away. He is subsequently arrested. The house on Carlyle Road has been under continuous police surveillance for four months. It transpires that the woman who lives there, 42-year-old divorcee Jeanette Hodges, is a fence for the Lithuanian syndicate. She also has an impressive wealth of underworld contacts in the UK, many through her son Trevor Hodges, who was then in jail for his part in a string of extremely violent car-jackings. Trevor Hodges exploited his time inside to build up a lengthy client list for his mother, including members of some of London’s most notorious gangs, the Muslim Boys and the Peckham Boys; members of the latter were jailed for the murder of schoolboy Damilola Taylor. Jeanette Hodges built up a friendship with Dumbliauskas when she began selling their cigarettes, so when her son’s contacts asked her to source guns she immediately turned to the Lithuanians. She could get guns within four to six weeks. The price was between £1,200 and £1,400 per gun if they were bought in bulk. A one-off order would cost £2,250. After their four-month surveillance operation, the police raided Hodges’s house. They discovered 17 rounds of ammunition at her address. It was a small haul because she deliberately held the goods for the shortest amount of time possible. The arrest of Hodges, along with that of Denty, Idemudia, Kudarauskas, Dumbliauskas, Barzdaitis and Jacobs meant that police had broken one of the main supply chains. According to SOCA, 9mm ammunition was going for 50p a round on the street; after breaking the Baubliai supply chain, prices went up to £3 a round. When the UK trials that followed came to a close, Barzdaitis walked free. However, he has since been arrested in Lithuania and charged with exporting firearms. But SOCA is well aware that they can’t afford to be complacent. In their report last year they noted that Baikals are coming in to the UK in batches of up to 30 at a time. It is clear that the British police have a big and ongoing problem – they are dealing with a Hydra-headed monster. SOCA is not alone in believing that our gun laws are due an overhaul. Andrew Frymann, who acted for the prosecution in the trial of Dumbliauskas and Kudarauskas, says, ‘The problem is that the Firearms Act 1968 has failed to keep pace with the spread of gun culture in this country and its complexity. There is no specific offence of gun running, for example. Remigijus Laniauskas Jeanette Hodges From left to right: Lithuanian Remigijus Laniauskas and the Fence, Jeanette Hodges 'The Government and the country as a whole need to take a fresh look at how we can combat gun culture. The alternative is that this problem will only get worse and society will continue to foot the bill.’ This is ominous. But it is perhaps more disturbing that some of Britain’s criminals are already moving up from Baikals. During the raid on the garage in Alytus, Lithuanian police also found a stash of Agrams – lightweight, rapid-fire machine pistols made in Croatia. New guns, with a new story, making a new journey to Britain’s streets. PACKED AND READY TO GO... One of several hauls of ammunition (below) - including 95 9mm cartridges - bought by undercover police from Jeanette Hodges during their four-month surveillance of her house in Carlyle Road, London. The bullets were wrapped in plastic to keep them dry, then packed in a padded envelope and a Warehouse carrier bag. Two of the bullets have been opened by police. One of several hauls of ammunition GANG MEMBER: MUSLIM BOYS Ricky Dentry Arrested in 2006 in Romford Road. A part-time bouncer and member of the Muslim Boys. The south London-based gang has been linked to dozens of shootings. Its ranks number around 200, with a hardcore cadre of about 20. Denty, 28, whose family originally came from Uganda, was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to possession of firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life. GANG MEMBER: PECKHAM BOYS Glenn Jacobs Arrested in 2006 in Romford Road. With a string of street-level drug convictions, the 22-year-old soon progressed to handling guns for the notorious Peckham Boys. Police raided his home and discovered guns in his wardrobe. In 2007, he admitted possession of ammunition with intent to endanger life and was sentenced to four years in prison. This sentence will start once he has finished time for a previous conviction for four years for possession of a gun. THE LITHUANIAN Remigijus Laniauskas A soldier in the final days of the Soviet army, Laniauskas was arrested in a police raid and charged with possession and export of firearms. Faces trial in Lithuania later this year. THE GANGSTER Romas Dumbliauskas After his arrest en route to Carlyle Road, the blind Lithuanian was put on trial last summer at Snaresbrook Crown Court, where the two Baikals retrieved from Denty, opposite, were used as evidence against him. He was jailed for five-and-a-half years. THE POLICEMAN DS Trevor Gardner Headed the surveillance of the Shah Jalal Mosque, Romford Road. He grew up on the same south London estates now dominated by gangs who routinely use guns. He is a member of the Met Police's Racial And Violent Crime Task Force. THE FENCE Jeanette Hodges Lived in Carlyle Road, Manor Park. The 42-year-old divorcee pleaded guilty to conspiracy to endanger life and was sentenced to 14 years in jail. The irony is that if Hodges had pleaded not guilty she would be serving a fraction of her current sentence because the conspiracy charges were eventually dropped against the other defendants after the judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to support the charge.