Man arrested in front of Home Secretary jailed for 14 years after Soho firearms raid

 (NCA )
(NCA )

A man who was arrested following a firearms bust in Soho two years ago has been jailed.

Alsi Vata, 26, from London, bought firearms from Michael Derrane, 50, from Morpeth.

Derrane helped supply arms and drugs across the UK and both were arrested as part of a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation named Operation Venetic.

Vata, who was arrested in front of the then Home Secretary as he left his Soho apartment in July 2020, was sentenced to 14 years and three months after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to transfer prohibited weapons, possession of a prohibited weapon and conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs namely cocaine and cannabis on Wednesday.


Using encrypted communications platform, EncroChat, Derrane masterminded an illicit drugs networks for gangs in Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds, the Midlands, and London.

In one message, Vata asked for a weapon to which Derrane responded: “They in Spain until we start sending again I can’t get em you got enough kill someone only need one in right place.”

Derrane was jailed for 19 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to transfer prohibited weapons (firearms) and conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs namely Heroin, Cocaine and Cannabis at Leeds Crown Court.

Adrian Barnard, the National Crime Agency SIO, said: “Today’s sentencing is testament to the hard work of law enforcement in relentlessly pursuing those who deal in lethal firearms.

“Messages clearly showed that Derrane was a dangerous person, whose access to weaponry gave him status among organised crime groups on a national scale. Derrane cash pic

“The levels of violence and exploitation that are linked to illegal drugs and firearms in the UK is undeniable and, not only are we going after the criminal kingpins, we’re disrupting those middle-tier criminals before they can make their way up the chain and cause even greater harm.

After National Crime Agency officers launched the operation in 2020, Derrane was arrested in his van in the Tingley area of Leeds by NCA armed officers on suspicion of firearms and drugs offences.

During a search of the van officers recovered a firearm that had been converted to fire fully automatic, as well as ammunition, class B drugs and £6000 cash.

Hilary Ryan, Specialist Prosecutor of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This was a complex and challenging case but, thanks to the work of the investigators and our prosecutors, the conviction and sentencing of Derrane and Vata takes two dangerous criminals off the streets.

“Their dealings in wholesale quantities of drugs and in firearms were motivated by financial gain. They had no regard for the harm caused by drug addiction or for the fear, injury and loss of life resulting from the trade in illegal firearms.”