This is the picture which helped bring down a ‘ruthless gangster’ and gun runner who helped Salford criminals plot a gangland revenge shooting.
Umair Zaheer, from Eccles, is beginning a 25 year jail sentence after EncroChat messages revealed his involvement in sourcing guns and drug dealing.
This image of Zaheer provided police with a crucial breakthrough as they were able to find the same clothes he had been wearing on the picture at his home.
READ MORE : Reece Tansey killers named for first time as judge lifts reporting restrictions
The Louis Vuitton T-shirt, gray top, trousers and trainers were all recovered by police.
His close ally Bilal Khan, 33, from Didsbury, also posed with the deadly machine gun.
Manchester’s courts are some of the busiest in the country with a vast array of cases heard every week.
To keep up to date with how justice is being served across Greater Manchester subscribe to our free weekly MEN Court News newsletter put together by our court reporters Andrew Bardsley and Amy Walker.
How do I sign up?
- First just click on this link to our newsletter sign-up centre.
- Once you’re there, put your email address where it says at the top, then tick the MEN Court News box. There are other newsletters available if you want them as well.
- When you’ve made your choice, hit Save Changes button at the bottom.
Khan, who worked for a property management company, was locked up for more than 10 years.
“The photograph of you holding the AK47 was circulated to associates as a sign of your power,” sentencing judge Mr Justice Kerr told Zaheer.
“Mr Khan celebrated with jubilant messages boasting of the firepower of the weapons and the prestige and thrills they brought.”
EncroChat messages revealed how Khan, known as ‘Legend killer’ on the network, revealed in possessing the deadly machine gun.
“This ting gives me a hard on,” he wrote.
“This is the daddy.
“I feel like my d*** works.
“No lie best ting I’ve seen.”
Zaheer and Khan were sentenced alongside five other men for firearms and drug offences, revealed by the law enforcement hack of the secretive EncroChat network, known as WhatsApp for criminals.
Crimes uncovered included the revealing of a plot to ‘hit back’ after two men were shot in Salford, plots to purchase terrifying weapons including an AK47 and an Uzi sub machine gun, as well as large scale drug dealing.
Brandon Moore, 24, and Jordan Waring, 23, were both shot during an incident in Kersal in April 2020.
They sought the help of Zaheer to source a gun and seek retribution.
Zaheer, 34, said they would ‘do him’ when they discovered where the alleged gunman was.
“This kids f***** now,” he said.
“Oh yea he is a dead man,” Waring replied.
Zaheer sent Moore a list of firearms available for sale, including two AK47s and an Uzi.
“Yeah nice bro this kid needs it,” Moore, who had been shot in the arm, replied.
Zaheer said: “He will get bro just let him get comfortable a bit we will sneak up on him.”
Moore and Waring were later arrested and the plan came to nothing.
Their lawyers claimed the messages were exaggerated and showed ‘bravado’, but the judge said: “The three of you at once planned revenge.
“The plan was serious. It was not bravado.
“It was as real as the wound to your arm,” he told Moore.
Zaheer was also involved in helping broker deals to sell terrifying weapons to other criminals.
I have arranged a £37,000 deal to sell Uzi and Skorpion sub machine guns, as well as a pistol to Khan.
Former electrician Robert Brazendale, 34, who worked with Zaheer and acted as a courier and driver, handed over the guns in a shop car park in Warrington, in exchange for the cash which was delivered by a courier, Hitesh Patel.
Patel then drove the weapons to London, where they were later recovered by police.
Khan himself picked up an AK47, which Patel had been due to collect but couldn’t as the weapons could not fit in his car.
He took it to his uncle’s business premises in Warrington, where he and Zaheer posed for pictures.
About a week later, police raided the site and found the AK47 hidden in a roof void.
“Bro they found it,” Khan said in a message to Zaheer.
“Makes zero sense but NCA (National Crime Agency) have that AK,” he added.
The pair were arrested in the following days.
“The arrest and conviction of these defendants has probably prevented, at least, serious violence, and disrupted the criminal activities of a criminal gang,” the judge said.
Despite his crimes, the judge accepted there was another side to Zaheer.
“You are not only a ruthless gangster, you are also a good son, partner, father and fund raiser for charitable causes,” he said.
“I have read your letter to the court apologizing for your criminal behavior and for letting down your family, employer and community,” the judge said of Khan.
Zaheer, Moore and Waring, all of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess firearms or ammunition with intent to endanger life.
Zaheer pleaded guilty to a separate conspiracy to possess firearms or ammunition with intent to endanger life, as did Khan, of Mersey Road, Didsbury, alongside, Patel, 27, of Garden Lane, Chester.
Brazendale, of Selworthy Drive, Warrington, admitted conspiring to transfer prohibited weapons.
Zaheer and another man, Lewis Coleman, 23, of Pendlecroft Avenue, Swinton also admitted drug offences, both pleading guilty to conspiring to supply cocaine.
Zaheer pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply cannabis, and Coleman pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply ketamine.
Zaheer was jailed for 25 years, Moore received 11 years and five months, Waring was sentenced to eight years and seven months while Coleman was locked up for six years and nine months.
Brazendale was sentenced to 11 years and three months, Khan to 10 years and eight months, and Patel received seven years and five months.
After the hearing, Neil Gardner, NCA operations manager, said: “The weapons we took off the street and out of the crime groups’ hands were some of the most lethal around with a truly devastating capability.
“In seizing these weapons which are capable of firing multiple rounds per second, we have saved lives and protected the public.”
DC Steven Walker, of GMP Salford’s Organized Crime Unit, said: “This group of men undoubtedly posed a significant threat to the city of Salford and it’s right that they’ll now spend a majority of their adult years behind bars.
“The weapons that they were in possession of and the conspiracy they were planning could’ve proved to be a lethal combination and the work we’ve been able to do with the National Crime Agency has certainly saved at least one life.
“We believe some of the serious criminality we’ve seen in Salford over recent years has stemmed from the threat posed by these individuals and there’s no doubt the community can welcome the fact that these men won’t be operating on our streets for decades to eat.”