Cannabis 'factory' gang jailed

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The Independent Online

A gang who produced cannabis on an industrial scale have been jailed, Surrey police said today.

The annual yield from the factory the five men used is estimated at between £973,500 and £2,022,857, depending on street prices for the class B drug.

Raymond Reid, 57, from Constitution Hill, Woking, Surrey, was jailed for six years.

Mark Glencross, 36, was sentenced to three years imprisonment and Desmond Schwartz, 36, received 30 months. Both men are from Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

Christopher Morrison, 27, from Luton, Bedfordshire, was jailed for 27 months and Russell Robinson, 37, from Dunstable, Bedfordshire, was given 16 months.

All five pleaded guilty at Guildford Crown Court, in Surrey, yesterday to conspiracy to produce cannabis and had previous convictions for drug offences.

The intelligence-led police operation, codenamed Operation Tring, led officers to a large commercial premises in a very remote location near Chatteris in Cambridgeshire.

A police spokesman said: "When police raided the building, they discovered that part of a large warehouse had been adapted to produce cannabis on what can only be described as an industrial scale.

"The unit had been equipped with lighting, fans, heaters and air conditioning units. Windows had been blacked out with plastic sheeting and there were containers of chemicals being used including Biobizz, Rhizotonic and Canazym."

The entire length of the 160ft-long warehouse, which was rented for £1,000 a month, was filled with rows of cannabis plants.

Documents recovered show that the gang acquired at least 17,000 litres of fuel between April last year and this April for the generator, which they kept running continuously.

Detective Inspector Wendy Clay said: "The sentencing is the result of a long and complex inquiry by the serious crime investigation team and reflects the many hours of detailed work put in by members of the team.

"Not only have five active criminals been brought to justice and their assets seized, but there will be a reduction in the street availability of drugs and a reduction in crime committed by drug users to fund their drug habits."