A secret stash of machine guns and ammunition was discovered by police behind a false wall during a raid on a drug dealer’s London home.
Terence O’Connor, 25, was sentenced at Harrow Crown Court to 16 years and three months in prison on Monday after admitting possession of the deadly weapons.
Officers also seized more than £140,000 in cash and 1kg of cocaine valued at up to £36,000 in the raid on the property in Edgware, north London, in April 2020.
His conviction followed an investigation conducted by the Metropolitan Police’s money laundering team.
The investigation began in April 2020, after officers saw O’Connor hand what they believed to be a bag of cash to a suspect they were monitoring as part of a money laundering investigation.
Nine days later, O’Connor was seen in a parked car in Silverston Way, Edgware.
After he started moving items from the boot, detectives moved in and discovered a black rucksack with a large quantity of cocaine inside it.
O’Connor told the officers: “I’ve never seen that before.”
He was found in possession of an encrypted mobile phone that was on the EncroChat network used by organised crime members.
A thorough examination of the car revealed a concealed hiding space within a passenger side interior panel.
Although it was empty apart from two separate coloured latex gloves, it was assessed that it could conceal a significant amount of illicit items.
During the search of an address linked to O'Connor on Amais Drive, Edgware, detectives discovered £143,080 in cash, a money counting machine and additional quantities of cocaine.
In total, officers seized about 1kg of cocaine with a wholesale value of about £32,000 to £36,000.
Police said empty drugs packaging recovered from the property indicated that upwards of 100kg of cocaine had been processed at the location.
Within the flat, police discovered a false wall panel concealing a void behind it. Inside the void was a holdall containing a cache of automatic weapons and ammunition. Officers also discovered a compatible silencer.
The weapons seized were a fully functioning 9mm Uzi submachine gun and a .32 auto Skorpion submachine gun.
In addition, 332 rounds of compatible ammunition were recovered, which included additional rounds of .38 calibre ammunition.
O’Connor answered no comment to all the questions he was asked during his police interview.
He later pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a Class A drug (cocaine); being concerned in the supply of a Class A drug (cocaine); possession of criminal property; two counts of possession of a prohibited automatic weapon; possession of ammunition; possession of a silencer and two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Kevin Davies said: “This sentence reflects the seriousness of the matters under investigation and will serve as a deterrent to those involved in serious and organised crime.
“O’Connor was involved in large scale drug trafficking and was also instrumental in the laundering of the proceeds of this crime.
“He had possession of dangerous automatic weapons, ammunition and a silencer, which would have been capable of causing death and serious injury on the streets of London.
“This investigation shows the close link between money laundering and those committing the most harm within London’s communities.
“It is also another example of the inextricable link between money, drugs and violence.
“We remain committed to putting people like O’Connor behind bars to ensure London is a safer place for everyone.”
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