Wiltshire

Wiltshire drugs gang ringleader payment ruling due

David Barnes from Hungerford in Berkshire.
Image caption Bristol Crown Court was told David Barnes was the ringleader of the gang

A ruling on how much money will be confiscated from the ringleader of an international drugs gang that was based in Wiltshire is due next week.

Police believe David Barnes made as much as £29m from illegal activities and want to seize it under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Barnes, 42, of Berkshire, was convicted of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs and jailed for 12 years in 2010.

He appeared at Gloucester Crown Court on Friday, surrounded by armed police.

During the trial, Bristol Crown Court heard Barnes and seven other gang members were caught after 10 tonnes of skunk cannabis was found at a farm in Wanborough near Swindon in April 2009.

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

Image caption Ten tonnes of skunk cannabis was found at a farm in Wanborough near Swindon

It was then driven in lorries to Wiltshire.

Wiltshire Police said it was one of the largest drug distribution operations seen in the UK.

Barnes, from Hungerford, claimed in court that he only made £40,000 from the operation.

Police believe the gang transferred millions of pounds out of Britain by taking cash by car from Swindon to London.

From there a courier would go to a high street money bureau and wire the cash to bureaux in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Dubai.

It was then collected and the trail ends.

Judge Jamie Tabor is due to announce his ruling next Friday.

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