UK's largest drugs inquiry leads to 18 convictions

A four-year Met Police drugs investigation has led to 18 people being convicted.

Chinese, Vietnamese and British nationals from London, Leicester, Kent and Solihull have been found guilty of conspiracy to facilitate the production of cannabis.

Operation Opaque began in November 2008 and targeted drugs importers, wholesalers and growers.

It is thought to be one of the largest drugs operations carried out in the UK.

In October 2010 26 people, aged between 15 and 57, were arrested. Of the 18 convicted, sentences have ranged from 15 years to 30 months in jail.

During the investigation, jointly run by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and MPS Middle Market Drugs Partnership, large quantities of equipment used by criminals to facilitate the growing of cannabis on industrial scales were seized.

Industrial quantities

Dozens of business premises and warehouses and more than 15 residential addresses were searched and about £35,000 was recovered.

Specialist equipment was imported through different companies set up by the defendants from countries including China and Holland, said a police spokesman.

The majority of the defendants were drivers, cultivators or wholesalers, and most of the equipment seized from the warehouses and business premises was suitable for producing cannabis in industrial quantities.

Once imported, the equipment was delivered to a number of warehouses for distribution or direct to individual cannabis farms around the UK.

The convicted men and women are: Van Nhien Dang, 29, of Craigerne Road, Blackheath, who was jailed for 10 years; Ngoe Tien Ly, 28, of Gorman Road, Woolwich, jailed for six years; Mahn Toan Dang, 27, of Days Lane, Sidcup, Kent, jailed for 15 years; Hai Ban Tran, 33, of Park Cliff Road, Greenhithe, Kent, jailed for four years; Van Trong Le, 49, of Magpie Place, Milton Court Road, New Cross, jailed for 30 months; Nhat Anh Nnguyen, 32, of Robin Crescent, Newham, jailed for 30 months.

Tuan Van Le, 35, of Brookhill Road, London, jailed for six years; Quan Van Dang, 38, of Penhill Road, Bexley, jailed for 10 years; Hung Tuan Dang, 24, of Days Lane, Sidcup, Kent, jailed for eight years; Andre Davis, 45, of Hathaway Road, Solihull, West Midlands, jailed for four years.

Being sentenced in January are: Freddie Ross Johnson, 57, of Orchard Street, Fleckney, Leicester; Thoung Tu, 54, of Nevill Road, Hackney; Gary Stephen Hadley, 40, of Gavestone Road, Greenwich; Jamie Covington, 28, of Westcombe Hill, Blackheath; Shaun Byrne, 50, of Cator Close, New Addington, Croydon; Thanh Than Nnguyen, 54, of Hoe Street, London; Ngat Thi Le, aka Jessica, 27, and Huang Van Le, 54, of Barnfield Road, London.

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