LONDON — London police detectives investigating a drug-trafficking ring were initially stymied. Then DNA on a pistol seized during a 2017 investigation turned up a match.
The genetic material matched not one, but three people: Identical triplets Reiss, Ralston and Ricky Gabriel.
"The DNA recovered was not attributable to just one of the triplets, so officers were required to carry out extensive inquiries to identify which of them was complicit," officials with London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement. "Officers were able to evidence that all three Gabriel brothers were involved, leading them all to be convicted of the offenses" on July 2.
The 28-year-old London triplets were each charged with conspiracy to possess a firearm with the intent to endanger life. Ralston and Ricky Gabriel, who the BBC reported are semi-professional soccer players, were each sentenced to 14 years in prison for conspiracy to possess a firearm with the intent to endanger life.
Reiss Gabriel was convicted of that same charge, as well as a separate firearms charge and two counts of possession with the intent to sell drugs.
He was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the main conspiracy charge and an additional 13 years on the other charges. Those sentences will run concurrently with the 18-year sentence, authorities said.
The charges stemmed from an April 10, 2017, incident in which investigators conducted surveillance on a group they believed to be providing weapons to dangerous criminals. During their surveillance, they spotted Hamza Ahmed, 21, of London meet with another man and pick up weapons and ammunition before driving away in a mini cab, a Metro Police news release said.
When the cab was pulled over a short distance away, investigators found Ahmed with two bags containing guns and ammunition. One weapon was an Uzi sub-machine gun, complete with ammunition and a silencer. Ahmed also had a handgun on him.
A second round of surveillance later that month nabbed Aron Thomas, 32, of London, who was carrying a bag with a loaded revolver and multiple rounds of ammunition, the news release said.
Thomas was not allowed to possess a weapon following an 11-year prison stint for a shooting into a crowd outside a tube station in 2010. One man was injured in that shooting.
Ammunition for the type of revolver Thomas was carrying is no longer manufactured, police said, but the bullets found with the gun had been modified to fire from the weapon.
Along with Ahmed and Thomas, police also arrested Elyace Hamchaoui, 23, and Joshua Miller, 27, both of London, in connection with the case. Miller was driving the car Thomas was in when he picked up the illegal weapons and Hamchaoui had served as a go-between between Ahmed and Thomas, investigators said.
All four men were convicted in May 2018 of possessing firearms with the intent to endanger life, police said. Their sentences ranged from 14 years for Hamchaoui to life imprisonment for Thomas.
"Aron Thomas is a dangerous individual who made a concerted effort to acquire firearms, intending to cause harm to others," temporary Detective Chief Inspector Driss Hayoukane, of the Met's Specialist Crime Command, said in the news release. "At the time of committing this offense, Thomas was on license (probation) having been released from an 11-year sentence for recklessly firing a weapon into a crowd of innocent people.
“He clearly has no regard for the safety of any member of the public, and no respect for the criminal justice system.”
According to authorities, the Gabriel brothers came under investigation after the other four men were tried and convicted. Detectives at that time conducted additional forensic exams on the handgun seized from Ahmed on April 10, 2017.
It was on that weapon that the DNA linked to the Gabriel brothers was found.
"I am proud of the dedication my officers, notably DS Nick Harvey and DC Irfan Khalifa, showed in tracking down and linking the Gabriel triplets to this case," Hayoukane said.
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