Six members of a gang which flooded Plymouth with al-most a ton of cannabis worth more than £9 million have been jailed for 20 years plus. The Plymouth Herald reports that seven men in all brought the drug to the city from London in 89 deliveries over 18 months.
But police busted a huge cannabis deal in a Plymouth suburb last June – seizing more than £50,000 in one car and almost ten kilograms of cannabis in the other.
Driver Peter Stewart told officers there was “s***loads” of cannabis in the car, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
Prosecutors claim that the gang brought 910 kilograms – close to a metric ton – of cannabis to Plymouth with a street value of £9.1 million.
Jailing six defendants for a total of just over 22 years, Judge Ian Lawrie said the exact amount of drugs brought to Plymouth could not be calculated. But he added the amount of drugs was “considerable”.
The hearing was interrupted as the wife of one of the imprisoned defendants collapsed at the back of the courtroom and began shouting hysterically. She was taken from the court by staff, including a trainee paramedic.
Nicholas Doyle, 32, and Londoner Tam Tran, who refuses to give his age, worked together to bring cannabis down the M5. Doyle used fellow Plymothians Stewart, 40, and Doyle’s former brother-in-law Paul Marr, 30, in the operation, the court heard.
Vietnamese Tran hired three London taxi drivers, Sunder Ahuja, 48; Abdul Shirzad, 48, Amrik Lamba, 41, to run the drugs from the capital. Tran was jailed for six years and three months; Doyle for five years and six months; Ahuja for three years and six months and Shirzad for two years and six months. Stewart and Lamba were both locked up for two years and four months.
Marr was given a 15-month prison sentence, suspended for two years on condition he does 200 hours’ unpaid work and pays £1,000 prosecution costs.
Judge Lawrie said drugs shipped to Plymouth brought misery to the city.
Talking of the taxi drivers, he added: “These defendants chose money over the fact they were participants in a serious crime. Their clear good qualities and responsibilities did not inhibit their offending. These are men with children and responsibilities as parents and they therefore should have known better than involve themselves in a drug supply arrangement whereby drugs and all their attendant misery were being shipped to Plymouth.”
Doyle, Stewart and Marr, all from Plymouth; Tran, of no fixed address; and Lamba, from West Drayton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply a Class B drug between November 2015 and June last year.
Ahuja, from Southall, and Shirzad, from Hounslow, both denied the joint charge but were convicted by a jury after a trial in November. They claimed they made trips – 46 for Ahuja – with Tran from London to Plymouth but had no idea they were delivering drugs.
Police who had the gang under surveillance for weeks swooped on two cars in Military Road, Efford, Plymouth on June 21 last year. Officers stopped Stewart driving a Vauxhall Zafira containing 9.8 kilograms of cannabis in two bags.
Lamba was stopped driving a Ford Galaxy with Tam Tran in the back seat. The Vietnamese had £52,600 in cash at his feet – money which he had been paid by Stewart for the drugs.
Police searched Doyle’s home and found £2,500 in cash.
Officers raided his business premises of Plymouth Ford Spares in Roborough. They found a total of seven kilograms of cannabis split between three drums. Officers also searched a lock-up at Laira Battery and found a further 250 grams of cannabis.
Police traced 91 trips from London to Plymouth, where Tran and the taxi drivers delivered drugs – often to the lock-up. Tran and the couriers usually turned around and headed back up the A38 minutes later.
Judge Lawrie heard the case which opened in March and mitigation on behalf of Doyle, Tran and Stewart. He ordered that £64,460 seized and disclaimed by the defendants will be donated to local charities. He thanked the officers for their “thorough investigation”.