Gang jailed for importing 2.5 tonnes of cannabis hidden in lettuce

19 July 2019, 15:50

Drugs hidden amongst lettuce in lorries travelling through Dover
Drugs hidden amongst lettuce in lorries travelling through Dover. Picture: Greater Manchester Police

A gang imported drugs worth more than £15 million from Spain in lorries arriving to the UK through Dover.

A gang of seven men has been found guilty of importing and producing cannabis on an industrial scale.

The drugs were transported via fake businesses and lockups located in Manchester, Bolton and Warrington.

The gang even dug a secret underground bunker formed of buried storage containers on a farm in North Wales to grow cannabis within.

Bunker used by the gang to store drugs
Bunker used by the gang to store drugs. Picture: Greater Manchester Police

Between July 2017 and November 2017 seven deliveries of cannabis were imported to the UK via Spain through the Port of Dover.

Drugs were concealed in packages labelled as oven filters. They appeared to be destined for a kitchen firm.

But the business didn’t exist and the address associated with it actually referred to a yard containing lock-up units behind a convenience store on Newton Road, Lowton, Warrington.

Drugs were concealed in packages in lorries
Drugs were concealed in packages in lorries. Picture: Greater Manchester Police

Between September 2017 and August 2018 six further deliveries arrived through Dover with drugs concealed in pallets of lettuce and peppers.

Officers stopped the sixth delivery in Dover on 12 August 2018 and uncovered 177kg of cannabis with a street value of more than £1.5 million.

Police executed a warrant at the lockup and found a stolen Mercedes which contained £20,000 worth of cannabis.

A stolen Mercedes contained £20,000 worth of cannabis
A stolen Mercedes contained £20,000 worth of cannabis. Picture: Greater Manchester Police

The total value of drugs believed to have been imported by the organised crime group if sold on the street is £15,450,000.

Detective Sergeant Richard Castley of GMP’s Serious Organised Crime Group investigating team said: “Thanks to the excellent work of our officers and colleagues on partner forces and agencies, we have managed to bring down a vast drugs network.

“These men were responsible for attempting to import enormous amounts of cannabis into the UK; the sale of which would have been used to further criminal enterprise.

“They even went to the expense of creating a large underground complex intended for cultivating the drug.

“However the exceptional detective work of our investigation team was able to identify and dismantle this organised crime group.

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