Drug lord jailed for cannabis conspiracy must repay £4.7m

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A DRUG lord who is serving an 18-year jail sentence for his part in a £150m conspiracy to import skunk cannabis in to Leeds has been ordered to pay back £4.7m.

A Leeds Crown Court judge has ordered 52-year-old Johannes Elmendorp to pay the money within six months or face serving another five years in jail.

Elmendorp organised the UK side of a conspiracy in which an estimated £150m of cannabis was hidden in fresh flower boxes before being imported into the UK from the Netherlands between 2008 and 2009. Using legitimate haulage companies, other members of the gang co-ordinated the transportation of the flower boxes from Holland to areas in Leeds.

The drugs ring also arranged the rental of a storage unit in Morley where the drugs would be stored. The shipments of cannabis were destined for Leeds, Bradford, Redditch and Birmingham.

The investigation in to Elmendorp, of Vandans, Austria, involved West Yorkshire Police’s Crime Division, West Mercia Police and the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) as well as both Dutch and German authorities.

The inquiry spanned Western and Eastern Europe, from the UK to Ireland, Holland, France, Germany, Italy and the Ukraine. West Yorkshire officers launched the investigation in October 2008 and used covert tactics and intelligence gathering.

During the confiscation proceedings at Leeds Crown Court, the wholesale value of the drugs were valued at £47m.

Financial investigation manager David Charity, of West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “This has been a protracted and arduous investigation.

“Elmendorp moved around numerous European countries in his efforts to frustrate law enforcement. While the law abiding public are struggling to make ends meet in these difficult times, Elmendorp has made millions from importing controlled drugs into our area.”

Mr Charity added: “This confiscation order continues to show that West Yorkshire Police is dedicated to protecting the public by tackling serious and organised crime and making criminals pay.”

West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson launched a petition earlier this year calling for a change to the legislation to allow local police, courts and prosecutors to keep more of the money seized. He has called upon Policing Minister Damien Green to allow police forces to keep more money generated under the legislation. At present, nearly half of the millions seized each year is retained by the Government.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “This case really highlights the considerable assets which can potentially be recovered from criminal enterprises such as this.

“I am campaigning for all the money seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act to be returned to our communities, as half currently goes back to Government and cases like this are a timely reminder of the amounts involved.”