England

Gang guilty of £30m cannabis-smuggling operation

Three men have been found guilty of smuggling cannabis into Britain in lorries carrying flowers from the Netherlands.

Bristol Crown Court heard how 10 tonnes of skunk cannabis with a street value of £30m was found at a farm in Wanborough near Swindon in April 2009.

One of the three convicted men was 41-year-old gang leader David Barnes from Hungerford in Berkshire.

Five others previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class B drugs.

Michael Woodage, 51, from Whitchurch, Hampshire, and Christopher Wills, 29, from Bracknell, Berkshire, were also found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs on Friday.

A fourth man, Stephen Docking, was found not guilty of the same charge.

All eight were remanded in custody for sentencing on 23 July.

Asset recovery

The gang had smuggled the cannabis into the UK among shipments of flowers - such as tulips and chrysanthemums - from Holland.

But the police smashed the operation when they seized Woodage's van in March last year after acting on intelligence.

Speaking after the verdict, Ch Insp Owen Gillard said the operation had been one of the largest in Wiltshire.

"Today's verdicts should send a clear message that we are absolutely determined as a police service to work with partner agencies to tackle the manufacture, production and distribution of drugs.

'We are here to protect the public and are committed to dismantling these organised crime groups.

"We will pursue them through the courts to recover the assets they have made from crime and invest this back into protecting our communities," he added.

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