AN UNDERCOVER police probe into blackmail linked to the drugs underworld has led to a man being jailed for possessing a sawn-off shotgun.
More than 40 officers were involved in the covert operation – led by Hampshire police’s Portsmouth-based Major Investigation Team – that snared Michael Foster.
Now the dad-of-two, 26, has been sentenced to five years behind bars after being convicted of possessing the pump-action sawn-off shotgun and cartridges following a three-day trial.
Police were lying in wait near a suspect property when they spotted Foster pull up in a car.
He later moved it and police swooped after watching suspicious comings and goings between the car and the property.
On searching the vehicle they discovered the gun and cartridges in the boot.
Foster – who has previously had what his defence described as ‘an issue’ with taking illegal horse tranquilliser Ketamine – denied knowing the gun was there.
He was arrested and later charged. However forensics found no evidence of his fingerprints on the weapon or wrappings.
Detective Chief Inspector Dick Pearson, from the Portsmouth-based Hampshire Constabulary Major Investigation Team, said: ‘The force’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit – part of Hampshire Major Investigation Team – were investigating a potential blackmail offence linked to drugs.
‘The unit was predominantly interested in the safeguarding of persons involved.
‘Overnight from September 7 to 8 that unit was involved in monitoring that address. As a result of these covert observations a number of arrests totalling 12 were made. Foster was one of those.
‘Of those, only Foster was prosecuted after a firearm was located in a vehicle linked to him.
‘Hampshire Constabulary Major Investigation Team is committed to investigating offences involving firearms, especially where linked to drug-related violence.’
Portsmouth Crown Court heard Foster has travelled from Banbury in Oxfordshire to Cranbury Terrace, Southampton to deliver the shotgun to ‘known criminals’ in September last year.