Cannabis drugs farm gang jailed

A CANNABIS farm in Westwood led police to uncover a massive drugs operation worth £8million.

Thursday, 28th January 2010, 3:00 pm

This week, a gang of eight men who farmed cannabis plants on an industrial scale at eight sites, including Westwood, were jailed for a total of almost 24 years.

The operation came to an end in August 2008 when police raided an old chicken factory on Barrows Hill Lane in Westwood, near Jacksdale, and found five rooms packed with more than 3,500 plants worth 2.5million.

An investigation was launched called Operation Vanguard which led to a total of 7,223 cannabis plants and 797 plant cuttings worth around 5million being seized.

Some of the crops had already been harvested and the total enterprise would have been worth around 8million, police say.

Drugs were found at properties in Nottingham, Radcliffe-on-Soar and in Derbyshire.

The venues had all been rigged with specialist growing equipment, said a police spokesman.

The eight-month investigation unearthed links between different criminal gangs, which led to police carrying out a series of raids in Nottingham, which led to arrests and assets being seized.

Eight men in their 20s and 30s from Nottingham were sentenced to between one year and six-and-a-half years at Nottingham Crown Court on Tuesday.

Jason Marshall was jailed for six-and-a-half years, Anthony Craig for five years, Dominic Kamal got four-and-a-half years, Jamaine Thomas two years and nine months, Alfred George Thomas 18 months, Daniel Brent-Smith 15 months and Vito Ricardo Onorati was jailed for 15 months.

Sukhvinder Kandola was given a 12-month sentence suspended for a year and a community order and Aaron James Palmer received a community order.

Hai Duy Ngo, also part of the gang, was sentenced earlier this month to four years.

Last year, four Vietnamese men were sentenced for a total of ten years for their roles as gardeners at the properties.

Another four Vietnamese men will be sentenced for similar roles at a later date.

Det Insp Leigh Sanders, who led the inquiry, said: "These men all carried out different, but significant, roles to develop a network of highly sophisticated cannabis farms, which could produce thousands of plants.

"Through intelligence-led police operations I am glad to say we have taken out this gang, which had links with Vietnamese nationals, who came to the country to act as gardeners.

"Following today's sentences, we will now try and recover the assets we have already seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act."

A proceeds of crime hearing will take place in March at Nottingham Crown Court.