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09/10/2008

Man Admits £10m Cannabis Conspiracy

A 61-year-old man has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply 3.06 tonnes of cannabis resin with a street value of approximately £10 million.

Unemployed Gerard John Dutton, 61, of Saddlemakers Lane, Melton, Woodbridge, Suffolk, set up two false companies in order to facilitate the importation of two separate loads of cannabis and admitted the charge at Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday 8 October.

The charge was a result of Operation Cromer, an investigation run by the Met's Project Team, which spent seven months identifying an organised criminal network involved in importing and supplying cannabis from southern Spain.

The team passed intelligence onto H.M. Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and on 3 April, they stopped and searched a Spanish registered lorry arriving into Dover's eastern docks. The lorry had travelled across from Alicante, Spain and had hidden 1.5 tonnes of the drug in six pallets of floor tiles.

On 8 July, HMRC officers stopped a further Spanish registered lorry as it came through the port of Dover. In this instance they discovered six pallets of 'dressed stone', hiding a further 1.56 tonnes of cannabis resin.

Dutton was subsequently arrested the same day in North Yorkshire and brought back to London for questioning.

The lorry drivers and haulage companies involved in the case were innocent victims, duped into believing the loads were genuine cargos of tile and stone.

Detective Inspector Grant Johnson from the Met's Project Team, said: "Dutton went out of his way to dissociate himself from the cargo, by setting up two false companies.

"Today's result shows that no matter what the method of deception is, we will catch those individuals seeking to import illegal drugs."

(JM/KMcA)

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