Five jailed over £80m cannabis supply ring

FIVE men have been sentenced to a total of 36 years in prison after a police operation led by a Yorkshire force resulted in what is believed to be the largest ever prosecution for cannabis dealing in the UK.

The sentences were the culmination of a two-year West Yorkshire Police operation targeting organised crime groups involved in the supply and distribution of cannabis worth an estimated £80m throughout the north of England.

Operation Bizarre saw more than £8m worth of cannabis seized and evidence gathered of previous shipments from Holland containing 20 tonnes.

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Four men were sentenced yesterday after being convicted at a crown court trial in Manchester last month.

Michael Levy, 44, of Ealing Place, Manchester, was sentenced to eight years and four years for two counts of conspiracy to supply a class B drug to be served concurrently.

Ian Thompson, 42, of Langdale Court, Manchester, was sentenced to five years in prison for one count of conspiracy to supply.

Carmello Anthony Abela, 53, of Hillside View, Tameside, was sentenced to 12 years and six years in prison for two counts of conspiracy to supply to be served concurrently.

Geno Abela, 42, of Stainton Avenue, Manchester, was sentenced to nine years and five years for two counts of conspiracy to supply to be served concurrently.

Rizwan Safdar, 30, of Crompton Street, Oldham, had previously admitted conspiracy to supply and was sentenced yesterday to 20 months in prison.

Four men from Bradford and a man from Milton Keynes had already been sentenced for their part in the cannabis supply.

Operation Bizarre was launched in December 2011, with the seizure of 50 kilos of cannabis, valued at £422,450, on the M67 in Greater Manchester.