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Seven men have been jailed for a total of 52 years after admitting armed robbery offences at Wolverhampton Crown Court.All seven had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit armed robbery and received the following sentences:
Waheed Zaman, 31 years-old from Great Barr – 10 years in prison
Larry Barnett, 26 years-old from Erdington – six years in prison
Lewis Richards, 22 years-old from Kingstanding – six and a half years in prison
Qaiser Rashid, 27 years-old from Walsall – five years in prison
Levi Melbourne, 24 years-old from Aldridge – six and a half years in prison
Imran Zaman, 23 years-old from Aldridge – nine years in prison
Ryan Jones, 22 years-old from Shelfield, Walsall – nine years in prison
The group carried out robberies at jewellers in October, including Laxmi Jewellers in Walsall and CNW Jewellers in Kinver. They also robbed a number of pubs in November, including The Church Tavern in Perry Barr and William Hill bookmakers in Kingstanding. The team also committed car-key burglaries in the region, using the stolen vehicles for their raids.
On 4 May 2011 officers from West Midlands Police worked alongside other police forces including Staffordshire, Warwickshire and West Mercia to execute a number of warrants at addresses believed to be linked to serious and organised crime.
Detective Inspector Bob Bradford from Force CID, who led the operation said: "This has been a long and in-depth operation involving many officers from both Staffordshire and the West Midlands and so we are really pleased that all of that hard work has paid off. This was a team of organised and dangerous criminals and the length of the sentences reflects the seriousness of their crimes. The public and in particular, businesses, will be a lot safer with these men behind bars. I hope these sentences send out a clear message to organised criminals that police across the region are working closely together to catch them and bring them to justice."
Detective Inspector Simon Duffy, from Staffordshire Police's Serious Organised Crime Unit, said: "The sentences handed out to this organised crime group are the culmination of a thorough police investigation by officers from Staffordshire and West Midlands forces. The 'Viper' investigation was part of the ongoing regional response to serious and organised crime.''