Violent gangs in “arms race” to control drug supply to West Midlands as guns “imported from Balkans”


A former undercover cop who trapped members of the Burger Bar Boys has warned that violent gangs are in an “arms race” to control the West Midlands’ illegal drug trade.

Neil Woods, now an advocate for the legalization of recreational drugs for rehabilitation purposes, said criminals were prepared to use “extreme violence” to get the upper hand over their competition.

This includes the “importation” of illegal firearms from places like the “Balkan” region of south-eastern Europe into the streets of the West Midlands, ready for battle.

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And he warned that violence could spill over into rural towns like Shrewsbury and Hereford, where “gangs from Birmingham and Liverpool are fighting for territory within the county lines.”

This is a Birmingham Live FOI which revealed that West Midlands Police have seized machine guns and sawed off shotguns from criminals over the past two years, including those in the Black Country.

Mr Wood said the only reason criminals were arming themselves was to control the black market in drugs – as he called on the government to legalize recreational drugs, calling addiction a “health problem”.

He told Birmingham Live: “Competition in the illicit drug markets drives gun ownership and gun violence. There is nothing else driving it.

Neil woods

“There is an increased risk of violence with more weapons than there is in the illicit drug markets.

“Until the day when control of the drug supply is taken away from gangs, this risk will increase.

“If the government controlled the drug markets through legal regulation, that just wouldn’t happen. “

He said drug traffickers are constantly adapting to new crime-fighting regulations and techniques, pushing them to become “more violent and aggressive” in order to stay at the top of the food chain.

“By trying to deal with drugs through criminal justice, we have created a Darwinian situation on our streets,” he said.

“The dealers most willing to use extreme violence and cruelty become the best performers.

“The harder you push, the faster it develops.

“It’s time to take back control and break this cycle of violence and stop the demand for guns.”

Mr Woods said the West Midlands was one of the “three hubs” for dealing counties – the practice of drug trafficking in rural areas – the other two being Liverpool and London.

He said the reason criminals armed themselves with weapons such as submachine guns and revolvers – which were seized by West Midlands police – is due to “lucrative drug trafficking”.

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“There is an ever-increasing risk that the violence of these weapons will spread to towns where Liverpool gangs compete with Birmingham dealers,” he said.

“The county line business is very lucrative.

“Beautiful towns like Shrewsbury and Hereford, where this competition sometimes breaks out, will be increasingly threatened.

“It is worrying because most of the rural conflicts so far have been with knives.

“As this continues, I predict more violence because it is the trend in the world.

“The gun caches in the West Midlands are due to the lucrative drug trade.”

The UK has very strict gun laws. Only a few types of firearms are legal, such as shotguns and rifles, which can be owned under strict conditions.

However, fully automatic or burst firearms, such as submachine guns, are illegal.

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This begs the question: how and where do criminals get their hands on weapons like machine guns that have been pulled from the streets of the West Midlands?

“Let’s be clear, these weapons do not fall into criminal hands, they are imported on order as part of an arms race in the illicit markets,” said Mr Woods.

“It’s about controlling huge business opportunities.”

He added: “The guns are coming from all kinds of directions around the world.

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“But I’m led to believe that most of the guns in Section Five are from the Balkans at the moment.”

Asked what is defined by section five, Mr Woods said: “Section five is pretty huge these days. It includes burst fire (firearms), assault rifles and machine guns.

“Rocket launchers and CS sprays are also in this section – all the extra-naughty stuff organized crime likes to store these days.”

The National Crime Agency has said most illegal guns in the West Midlands are trafficked from Central and Eastern Europe.

But Mr Woods said the UK was still behind the violence seen by its European neighbor, Sweden, where he said “they have switched to the use of grenades and other explosives, with literally hundreds of explosions in the streets over the past two years “.

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“I just hope we are still a long way from this situation,” he said.

During his tenure as a police officer, Mr. Woods worked undercover, throwing himself into the criminal underworld to catch drug traffickers.

He wrote about his exploits in the fight against crime in his book Good Cop, Bar War.

During a covert operation in Northampton, Mr Woods helped bring down members of Birmingham’s Burger Bar Boys gang, who he said had taken over the city’s drug trade.

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These members ended up being jailed for around eight to nine years, he wrote.

Mr. Woods is now a member of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, an international organization of current and former police officers, judges and prosecutors who work to improve drug policy.

He praised the efforts of the “brave and talented” West Midlands police officers who are “good at catching drug traffickers”.

Lloyd House, West Midlands Police Headquarters

But he said the problem with the illegal drug market was the policy itself, calling for the legalization and prescription of recreational drugs, which he said would make use safer for people and remove the power to criminals who make a profit.

“The police are not reducing the market, they are changing its shape,” he said. “And this changing shape is what leads to more guns.

“County lines are driven by the problematic heroin market and, to a lesser extent, the problematic crack market.

“The most hardcore heroin users consume 50% of the market.

“If we prescribe heroin to just a few, we cut the illicit market in half. It’s a huge amount of money in the pockets of the gangsters, money that pays for guns.

“It’s a health problem with well documented and proven health solutions.

“Solutions that would reduce the catastrophic death toll and reduce the power of organized crime.

“But we need to go further and legally regulate all drugs according to the level of risk.

“Medicines have never been so available, cheaper or more varied.

“Deaths have never been higher. Children have easy access to these drugs, much easier than alcohol, and they are exploited to sell them.

“The question is, how far does it have to go before we realize as a society that the problem is current politics?”

His book Good Cop, Bad War is available for purchase on Amazon.

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