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13 March 2015, 17:03
Three men from Rotherham have been jailed for a total of 17 and a half years after admitting firearms offences.
Robert Webb, 32, and David Webb, 30, both of South Crescent, East Dene, and Natale Lala, 31, of Moorgate Road, Rotherham, appeared before Sheffield Crown Court earlier.
Robert Webb pleaded guilty to firearms offences relating to possession of a handgun, a Carbine assault rifle, a stun gun, ammunition for a Carbine assault rifle and converting a firearm.
He also pleaded guilty to a number of offences under the Explosives Act, including possession of nitro-glycerine and three counts of possessing articles to make explosives.
He was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years behind bars.
David Webb and Lala pleaded guilty to possession of a handgun. They were jailed for five years each.
In 2014, South Yorkshire Police and the National Crime Agency began working on an operation, codenamed Operation Clearview, to identify and apprehend members of a sophisticated firearms ring, which included Lala and the Webb brothers.
On 10 July 2014, police arrested David Webb in his vehicle, after observing him entering a property in Moorgate Road, the home of Lala, with a package.
A short time later, when police raided Lala’s home, they found a Glock handgun and live ammunition.
Upon searching David's home address that he shared with his brother Robert in South Crescent, East Dene, officers uncovered an arsenal of weaponry including an automatic machine gun, a crossbow, a stun gun, and multiple magazines of ammunition.
They also discovered balaclavas and police uniforms in a wardrobe, as well as chemicals and compounds at the address that could be used to make explosives.
Two days later, an industrial unit in Whitelee Road belonging to the Webbs' was searched.
Here, officers found further ammunition, as well as more chemicals and compounds.
A quantity of nitro-glycerine was discovered in a locker, which is often used in the manufacture of explosives and is highly dangerous if stored or handled incorrectly.
Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Mick Hakin said:
"The court hearing today marks the culmination of months of hard work from Rotherham officers and a concerted effort to remove significant numbers of firearms from the streets.
"I think it is fair to say that nothing could have prepared us for what we found at South Crescent in July – the sheer number of bullets and array of guns was staggering."
"This group were sophisticated and highly organised but their actions, particularly Robert Webb’s possession of nitro-glycerine, put the lives of Rotherham’s communities at risk and were incredibly foolish."