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Thursday, 6 March 2008

Outlaws biker gang gun seized during a massive police operation


A gun seized during a massive police operation against the Outlaws biker gang was sent away for tests to find out if it was linked to a high-profile murder. Officers thought the semi-automatic handgun may have been the one used in the slaying of Hells Angel Gerry Tobin on the M40 last August.Ballistics experts later ruled it out as the murder weapon because it was a different type.The handgun was seized along with a sawn-off shotgun last Saturday as part of Operation Patch.It was the biggest police operation seen in the Forest and followed intelligence from Gwent Constabulary.The swoop involved 84 officers, including firearms teams carrying sub-machine guns, two specially- trained support units in full riot gear and dog handlers.They manned three checkpoints on the main roads into Cinderford.
One was outside Steam Mills Primary School, the second opposite Yew Tree Brake Cemetery in Speech House Road and the third near Littledean CofE Primary School.
All motorcycle riders, regardless of whether they were members of the Outlaws gang, were stopped at the checkpoints and questioned.Several vans and cars were also pulled over and searched as police took the opportunity to look for criminals not associated with the Outlaws. Eight men and a woman were arrested.A police helicopter hovered overhead during the operation. Meanwhile, a Gloucestershire force CCTV van was stationed in the Heywood Road car park in Cinderford, its cameras trained on a flat off the High Street which is believed to be an Outlaws Motorcycle Club HQ.
A police source said: "We'd been told the Outlaws were up to something across the border in Gwent and our aim was to stop anything from happening before they got out of the Forest."We knew they could have guns, which was why we needed the armed back-up. A sawn-off and a semi-automatic were recovered, so the operation was a success. It was thought the handgun may have been used in the M40 murder, although that was later found not to be the case."Det Insp Ian Ginn said: "It's very unusual for us to take action such as setting up checkpoints with armed officers. It was a result of specific intelligence regarding specific concerns."Members of the public should feel reassured that we have the resources and capability to do so to ensure public safety should the need arise."He added: "While information did not lead us to believe offences were to be committed in our force area, the operation led to the seizure of a number of weapons from addresses in Gloucestershire and this can only make the streets safer, both here and elsewhere."Hells Angel Mr Tobin was shot dead while riding on the M40 in Warwickshire on August 17, 2007. He was killed by a single shot as he rode home from the Bulldog Bash biker festival in Long Marston, near Stratford-upon-Avon.Five men accused of the 35-year-old's murder are due to stand trial at Birmingham Crown Court on October 1 this year. They have pleaded not guilty to murder and firearms offences.Two other men, also charged with murder and firearms offences, have not entered pleas.

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