Gun smugglers who tried to bring 95 lethal handguns into the UK have been jailed for a total of 45 years, following an investigation by the joint NCA and Metropolitan Police Organised Crime Partnership (OCP).

On Friday Stephen Spires, 38, of the Frithe, Slough was sentenced to 26 years in prison at Kingston Crown Court on Friday, while Denis Kolencukov, 26, received a 19 year sentence.

On July 3, 2017, OCP officers conducting surveillance on the Seaborough Estate, Iver, watched as Spires and another man Michael Nicholls, 28, removed items from a shipping container and attempted to drive away in a van.

With support from armed Thames Valley police officers the van was stopped and the pair were arrested. Nine firearms were recovered stashed in a plastic carrier bag in a front passenger foot well.

Officers discovered another firearm in the shipping container and a further six were recovered in police operations across the UK, bringing the total seized as part of this operation to 95.

Denis Kolencukov, 26, had been arrested two days earlier after 79 handguns and thousands of rounds of ammunition were seized by Border Force officers based at Coqeulles, France, following information supplied by the OCP.

The weapons were hidden in specially adapted concealments in engine blocks on the trailer of a van which was en route to the UK.

The driver, a Polish courier, had collected the engines from Kolencukov at the Orlen petrol station in Boleslawiec, Poland, the previous day, unaware of their lethal contents.

A diary seized from the courier had entries detailing six other previous importations conducted by Kolencukov, all of which were believed to contain firearms and ammunition.

Phone records showed that before each trip to the continent, Kolencukov was in contact with Stephen Spires.

Tony O’Sullivan from the Organised Crime Partnership said: “The sentences handed down to these men today reflect the severity of their crimes and the danger they knowingly posed to the British public.

“Not only were all 95 firearms viable weapons, they were packaged up with thousands of rounds of ammunition. I have no doubt they would have been sold for profit on the criminal market."