34-year-old Roy Evans became an armourer for the underworld drugs group after he spent 13 years in the army.
He was arrested in June 2020 after police seized a Bruni Gap 8mm self-loading pistol and a Slovakian-made machine gun pistol from a hot press in the home he shared with his girlfriend and her four children.
Evans previously served in Baghdad, Basra, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.
One officer found a rucksack on top of a cistern tank in the hot press and found several plastic bags containing the guns, plus a loaded magazine containing five 9mm bullets.
Another three 9mm bullets were found in a sock.
Prosecutor Jonathan Dickson said: “There was no evidence of any intended use of the weapons but the defendant's background in firearms in the Army and his lack of hesitation to take possession of a machine gun only point to use in connection with crime.
“A loaded firearm was placed in insecure housing available to young inquisitive members of the Edge family. The airing cupboard was open to any member of the family unit.”
Authorities later connected Evans to a massive drug seizure at an industrial unit in Salford, Manchester.
50 blocks of heroin weighing 25kg, seven blocks of cocaine weighing 7kg and a block of cannabis weighing 95g were all discovered during the raid.
Manchester Crown Court heard that his accomplice, David Astley, who was arrested at the scene of the raid had his phone examined by investigators.
During the examination it was found that Evans had called the phone 37 times in the run up to the delivery.
178 incriminating voice recordings left between Evans and an Asian man called Suf, believed to be Sufryn Butt a mob boss based in Dubai, were also discovered.
Evans, who has two children with his ex-wife, was embroiled in an organised crime gang that smuggled €4 million worth of heroin from Holland into the UK.
He was also a trusted 'custodian' for a Dubai-based crimelord codenamed Surfin who reportedly used the former Lance Corporal’s knowledge of guns and ammunition to look after guns for him.
One message sent by Surfin to Evans about the rapid fire machine gun read: “I'm gonna get a.f**king thing dropped off you with you yeah. Just lock it off for us fam. Bad boy artillery, bad boy artillery.”
Another read: “A machine bro, a Skorpz watch when you see it, an absolute bran spanker see through clips and all that.”
The defendant initially denied the charges but later blamed his behaviour on “failing to adapt well to civilian life after being discharged from the army".
He also said he suffered depression and PTSD, but eventually admitted importation of Class A and B drugs and unlawful possession of two firearms and ammunition.
Evan’s defence lawyer Gemma Maxwell said: “The defendant did not have any influence on those above him in the chain, it was naivety on his behalf. He had very little awareness of the scale of the operation and there is no evidence he would benefit financially from his involvement.
“He performed a limited function under direction and he believed the guns would not be discovered by the occupants of the house.”
At sentencing, Judge Timothy Smith told the former army man: “'Those who deal in drugs expect to make money from the weak and most vulnerable in society.”
“It brings about misery and despair, and very often death to those who use and become addicted to drugs and spawns an ever-increasing cycle of crime.
“Those who are involved, do so knowing full well they play a real part in the dark and wicked trade.”
“Guns are used to terrorise and intimidate, and that's why criminals want them and to use them,” he said.
“They are used with lethal force by rival gangs who like to enforce their own territory, usually driven by the drug dealing trade.”