Two criminals have been jailed for 32 years after a police investigation uncovered a criminal conspiracy involving guns, ammunition, two cannabis farms, and thousands of pounds in cash.

Najeef Saleem, of Smallbrook Lane, Leigh, and Nahidul Monaf, of Rita Avenue, Moss Side, were jailed for 22 years and ten years, respectively, at Manchester’s Crown Square today.

Saleem, aged 45, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life, conspiracy to supply cocaine, and conspiracy to supply cannabis, while 36-year-old Monaf pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and production of cannabis.

The men were jailed following a proactive operation launched in 2019, GMP said, which was strengthened in 2020 after the National Crime Agency provided the force with thousands of messages from the infiltrated encrypted communications network EncroChat.

Following a search of an address in Cheadle in 2019, officers found two self-loading pistols and ammunition hidden in a garden shed, belonging to a man doing building work on the property in question.

CCTV was recovered from the property which showed Monaf, also known as Bobby, and Saleem accessing the shed on several occasions. Forensic examinations linked Monaf and Saleem to the weapons.

Officers returned three months later to conduct further searches, finding a gun, more ammunition, and a silencer.

Saleem, who used the EncroChat handle ‘Rafaelcaroquintero’ after the Mexican drug lord of the same name, was arrested on July 8, 2020 at an address on Smallbrook Lane, Leigh.

Officers recovering around £30,000 cash, several mobile phones, paperwork, and a set of keys linked to a unit in Cheetham Hill.

Police also found a radio frequency detector – which GMP says is often used by organised crime groups to establish if their vehicles or mobiles are being tracked.

Monaf was arrested at an address on Rita Avenue, in Moss Side, where the force found cannabis plants.

Two large cannabis farms were discovered at units in Cheetham Hill, which police describe as a ‘sophisticated set up with high tech, expensive equipment’ including dehumidifiers, ducting, filters, and a hose system.

Messages found by police show Saleem purchasing large quantities of drugs and attempting to buy ammunition in bulk between April and June 2020, bragging about obtaining powerful firearms and hand grenades.

Detective Sergeant Colin Shackleton from our Serious Organised Crime Group said: “This was clearly a sophisticated operation.

“Saleem and Monaf had invested hundreds of thousands of pounds into their illicit enterprise through high quality technology and tracking devices, and the use of encrypted phones, all of which furthered their criminal business and concealed it from police.

“The extent of their criminality should not be underestimated. They were making vast profits from trading the deadliest commodities to anyone who would pay the price.

“Removing them from our streets will certainly have a detrimental effect on the supply chain, and every weapon we recover, and every criminal we arrest is another potentially fatal incident stopped.

“We’ve been working relentlessly to tackle firearms enabled criminality, and in the last year, we’ve seen dozens of high-risk offenders from the upper echelons of organised crime jailed for almost 300 years, with firearms recoveries and seizures increasing thanks to proactive operations like this.

“In this case and in so many others, information from communities is crucial, so if you know where dangerous weapons are being stored, carried or used, let us know and we will take positive action.”

If you have a story, please get in touch at