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20 April 2010, 12:47 | Updated: 20 April 2010, 13:23
Three Kent men have been jailed for more than 12 years for the part they played in more than £1.5million worth of cannabis being brought into the country.
All three men from Rochester were arrested in 2009 following information received by officers from Kent Police's Serious Organised Crime Unit resulting in an extensive investigation and the confiscation of in excess of 200 kilos of cannabis.
Kevin Gordon Bennett, 46yrs, from Glovers Mill in Rochester pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cannabis, conspiracy to supply cannabis, conspiracy to cultivate cannabis and possession of a section 1 firearm (taser).
He was sentenced to six years in total. Five years for importation/supply of cannabis, six months for cultivating cannabis and six months for the stun gun.
Stuart John McCall, 42 yrs, also from Glovers Mill, Rochester pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis.
McCall was sentenced to two years and nine months.
Nigel Kevin White, 29 yrs, from Bligh Way Rochester was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cannabis. The jury found him not guilty of conspiracy to cultivate cannabis and possession of a firearm.
White was sentenced to four years imprisonment.
On 3 September 2009 officers were informed of a consignment at Heathrow airport which had been imported from Asia. The shipment contained picture frames but following further examination, officers found 40 silver foil bags containing cannabis underneath the picture frames. The estimated street value of this consignment is believed to be £720k.
On 18 September 2009 officers were alerted to a shipment at Southampton docks which had also been imported from Asia. The shipment was found to contain computer desks. However further examination showed that some of the flat pack boxes also contained eight silver foil bags containing cannabis. The estimated street value of this shipment is believed to be £831,800.
Both consignments were scheduled to be delivered to addresses in the Rochester area which were later found to be unrelated to the criminal activities.
Officers tracked one of the shipments to an address in Rochester and subsequently executed a warrant at the premises. A search of the address found two hydroponics cannabis factories, one of which was behind a false wall within a garage. The cultivation unit contained 22 cannabis plants. The unit was set out with timers, lighting and extractors all contained in a purpose built canvas tent like structure measuring approximately eight feet square.
The second unit was found in first floor bedroom. Whilst no growing plants were found, officers identified cannabis residue on the floor. A black stun gun (taser) was also seized from this address.
The estimated street value of the drugs found at this address is believed to be in excess of £200k.
Kent Police’s Detective Sergeant Andy Nicoll said: "Drugs have a devastating impact on our communities.
"We will take every step possible to ensure that illegal drugs are removed from circulation within our county. Today’s sentencing has not only removed £1.5 million of herbal cannabis from our streets, but also three offenders who have been sentenced for their crimes."
Judge Carey praised Kent Police for “its thorough and efficient investigation” and commended two officers in the case who were present in court Detective Constable Denis Courtney and Detective Constable John Kahl.