'Devastating' drug dealers are jailed

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The Independent Online

Members of a gang which ran a £60m drug business from a set of isolated farm buildings have been jailed.

Described as one of the biggest operations in the country, the importation and distribution of skunk cannabis by the gang, based in Swindon, had a "devastating effect" on the lives of thousands of people.

David Barnes, 41, from Hungerford, Berkshire; Michael Woodage, 51, from Whitchurch, Hampshire; and Christopher Wills, 29, from Bracknell, Berkshire, were all found guilty at Bristol Crown Court on 18 June of conspiracy to supply class B drugs.

Five other men had previously pleaded guilty to involvement in the trade, which the gang ran at several "highly secure" farm buildings in Swindon and an industrial unit near Hungerford.

All eight gang members were handed prison sentences at Bristol Crown Court. They ranged from three to 12 years. Chief Inspector Owen Gillard, who headed the investigation said: "Their actions not only directly ruined individuals' lives but had a much farther-reaching, but equally-as-devastating effect on families and communities throughout the country.

"Their sentences should send a clear message to people that if you are criminally involved in a group similar to this one, we will catch up with you and take all necessary action to ensure you are held to account for your actions."