SEVEN men from a drug cartel based in Warwickshire and Spain have been jailed for a total of nearly 40 years for importing tonnes of cannabis to the UK.
The six-year investigation - called Operation Damascus - is Warwickshire Police’s largest and longest ever investigation.
It has now put a total of 30 people behind bars after the conclusion of a lengthy court case at Birmingham Crown Court.
One of the men jailed for supplying cannabis once it was in England was 43-year-old Stratford-upon-Avon man, Jovan Tumara, of Wordsworth Avenue.
He was given three years and nine months in prison for his part in the organised crime group.
Stratford man Jovan Tumara was part of the organised crime group.
Detective Chief Inspector Ally Wright, head of Warwickshire Police’s SOCU (Serious and Organised Crime Unit), said: “Today has been a good day for justice.
"This has been one of the longest and the largest ever proactive investigation ever undertaken by Warwickshire Police and we are pleased we have steadily dismantled a high-level organised crime group.”
The investigation centred on the criminal activities of Terry Conlon, 39, who was living in a luxury barn conversion in Copston Magna, near Wolvey in Warwickshire, and Troy Stanton, 47, who was living in a villa in Alicante.
Terry Conlon's luxury three-storey house in Copston Magna, Warwickshire.
In 2008, 95kg of cannabis resin was recovered in Hull and intelligence from this operation led officers to a farm in Wolvey where they found more than three tonnes of resin in bags marked with a fish symbol.
Later that year, 82kg of resin was recovered in a police sting in pub car park in Coventry.
The drugs had been driven to Coventry from Kent and at the handover in Coventry all those involved were arrested.
Even though these seizures were linked, police needed to gather further evidence to prove they were organised by Conlon and Stanton.
In 2010, Warwickshire Police contacted the Spanish authorities, and after examining their intelligence, were able to prove the men convicted this week were linked to the drug seizures in July 2008.
In June last year, police arrested a total of 17 people in a series of raids up and down the country, including ones in Stratford-upon-Avon and Snitterfield.
Terry Conlon was head of the group.
DCI Wright said: Today’s sentences mean that over the last six years we have convicted 32 people of drug trafficking, drug dealing or related offences. We have taken off the streets tonnes of cannabis, 200kg of amphetamines and importantly five illegal firearms. We also seized £130,000 in cash.
“The criminal enterprise headed by Conlon was a multi-million pound business: those involved had amassed the trappings of wealth – for example high-value cars and expensive properties in England and Spain – and yet none of them had a job or paid any tax.
“They were alive to police tactics which meant they were disciplined and determined in their pursuit to make money and avoid detection.”
The men changed mobile phones regularly which meant the prosecution had evidence from 42 different phone numbers.
DCI Wright said he was proud of his team, led by Detective Sergeant Paul Hammond and thanked both the Spanish authorities and all the other forces up and down the country who had assisted in the investigation.
Troy Stanton was based in Alicante and was in charge of the group's operations in Spain.
Conlon and Stanton pleaded guilty to all charges against them while other defendants pleaded guilty to some and not guilty to others, so they went to trial.
The result for each defendant was:
Terry Conlon, aged 39, of Banbury Road, Bishops Tachbrook, Warwickshire, was sentenced to eight years six months imprisonment. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import and supply cannabis.
Bryn Clinton, aged 45, of Banbury Road, Bishops Tachbrook, Warwickshire, was sentenced to five years four months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to import and supply cannabis.
Jovan Tumara, aged 43, of Wordsworth Avenue, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, was sentenced to three years nine months after he was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cannabis.
Harry Card, aged 31, of Hadlow Road, Tonbridge, Kent, was sentenced to four years four months after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cannabis. He was found not guilty of two counts of conspiracy to import cocaine.
Michael Wheaton, aged 31 of Golding Gardens, East Peckham, Tonbridge, Kent, was sentenced to three years after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis. He pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine, but the jury were unable to reach a verdict and the charge will now be dropped.
Sean Walsh, aged 45, of Mount Pleasant Road, South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, was sentenced to eight years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to import cannabis and being found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine.
Paul James, aged 36, of New Street, Bulkington, Warwickshire, was sentenced to six years after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply cannabis. He was found not guilty of conspiracy to import cannabis.
Two others, Troy Stanton and Renato Haughian, will be sentenced on Thursday 30th January.
Stanton, aged 47, of no fixed address, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cannabis and conspiracy to supply cannabis.
Haughian, aged 44, of Canalside, Longford, Coventry, has been found guilty of conspiracy to supply cannabis.
Also standing trial were:
Darren Holmes, aged 47, of Frankton Lane, Stretton on Dunsmore, Warwickshire, but he was found not guilty of conspiracy to supply cannabis.
David Card, aged 51, of Oakmead Road, Tonbridge, Kent. The jury were unable to reach a verdict on a charge for conspiracy to import cocaine, which will now be dropped.
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