North West Regional Organised Crime Unit
 

12 Men Jailed for a total of 39 Years

Fri 03rd, Nov

Operation GOA was a Titan investigation into a group of criminals travelling across three counties maintaining large cannabis farms. In 2013 the gang had rented 3 rural premises; in Essington Staffordshire, Ceinws near Machynlleth & Aberdwr in Wales.

The Aberdwr property was dismantled by Police in January 2014 and Mark ROBERTS was questioned when his DNA was found on a face mask in the premises, but not charged. He was then seen by Titan Officers visiting the Machynlleth property in 2017 and the Aberdwr investigation was re-opened. An address at Formosa Way in Fazakerley was the home of James FOY and he had 10 plants in a bedroom of the property, which several of the defendants were seen visiting regularly.
Tower House Farm, Essington is a large detached farm house situated in a secluded rural area of Staffordshire. It is accessible only by way of a narrow dirt track and was rented using a false name in 2013 - The ANPR and cell site evidence proved that these OCG used it to grow cannabis from at least August 2016 to February 2017, a period of 6 months.

In this period vehicles they were observed using in Liverpool were caught on ANPR cameras on route from Liverpool to and from the area in which the premises were located and mobile phones seized from them when they were arrested used cell sites near the premises.
On the 3rd February 2017 the conspirators, having become aware that a planning inspection may take place at the premises, packed up the cannabis growing equipment and took it away in two vans and a flatbed truck

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On the 7th February 2017 police officers entered the premises. They found that the cannabis growing equipment had been removed and an attempt had been made to clean the premises. An illegal electricity supply remained and cables ran throughout the building.
Two defendants stayed in the farm house for about a week at a time to tend the cannabis plants. In one room there were two beds, a sofa and a television.
Byrnmair is a bungalow in a small remote village near Machynlleth – there the group kept 30 plants but instead of staying at the premises they drove there and back several times a week to maintain the crop, often driving three hours each way for a 20 minute visit. Again this was rented in a false name in 2013.
All the defendants have pleaded guilty to the conspiracy.

Gary LONG & Peter SNAPE have admitted a more senior role – they met regularly with the other conspirators in a gym and cafés across Liverpool and provided instructions, only occasionally visiting the sites themselves.
WARD is a self-employed electrician and has admitted he fixed the electricity supply at Brynmair on 2 dates in March 2017.

The plants grown by this group were described by a Police expert as the most substantial he had ever come across, capable of producing ten times more yield than normal cannabis plants.

Total yields of cannabis from August 2016 to March 2017.


Wholesale value of the cannabis grown is £5,000 per kilo and street value is £20 per 1.4g deal.
Therefore total street value of the 86 kilos yield is £1.2 million per 6 months.
The property at Aberdwr had produced 9.2kg so the street value is £131,420.
Several of the defendants had large amounts of cash in their homes when arrested and a total of
£30,000 cash was recovered as well as expensive assets such as vehicles, watches and designer
clothing.


Speaking after the court case, senior investigating officer, Det Insp Nick Hughes from Titan said:

“These substantial jail sentences should serve as a warning to people about the consequences of becoming involved in organised crime.

“The cannabis this gang were growing was lining their pockets, enabling them to live comfortable lifestyles whilst flooding their communities with drugs.

“It was a sophisticated set up capable of producing far more crops in a year than most other cannabis farms we’ve ever seen.

“They thought they could avoid detection by setting up in isolated buildings in rural areas but our work with local forces shows that they is no place for organised crime groups to hide.

“Criminals involved in the cultivation of cannabis are often involved in other serious organised crime which brings significant harm to the very communities they are from.

"Every plant the police seize represents money being taken from the pockets of criminals and I’d encourage the public to keep telling us where these farms are so we can take action.”