Yorkshire cannabis gang jailed over record £15m haul

FOUR criminals from West Yorkshire have been jailed for a total of 20 years after police smashed a drug smuggling ring and found a record £15m cannabis haul.

More than three tonnes of cannabis was found hidden inside flower boxes by police who raided a lock-up in Wrenthorpe, Wakefield, in October 2008, Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday.

Robert Price, 55, and Scott Weaver, 30, both of Hollyshaw Terrace, Whitkirk, Leeds; Graham Lee, 43, of Rossefield Terrace, Bramley, Leeds; and his brother Andrew Lee, 46, of Wrenthorpe Road, Wakefield, were all jailed for their parts in the drugs operation.

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Police raided the Wrenthorpe Road lock-up after discovering Andrew Lee, who rented the premises, had given two Cheshire criminals seven boxes containing 250,000 of cannabis resin.

The warehouse was split into several rooms and detectives believe the drugs were smuggled across Europe from North Africa.

It was one of the largest cannabis stores ever found in the UK and served as a distribution hub for an international drugs ring, said Owen Edwards, prosecuting.

Ringleader Price, a father-of-three, lived a lavish lifestyle, owning several properties and luxury cars, and had 100,000 cash in notes stored under the floorboards of his home.

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Judge Kerry MacGill said: "Criminals placed a considerable amount of trust in (Price). The cannabis found was a huge amount. This was a professional operation on a grand scale."

Price arranged storage of the cannabis as a caretaker and was not involved in its importation, said Paul Greaney QC, defending.

All four pleaded guilty to drugs-related offences at earlier hearings. Four other people have also been charged with offences including assisting offenders.

Price was jailed for eight years and Weaver for five years and three months. Andrew Lee and Graham Lee were both jailed for three years and four months.