The subterranean cannabis factories protected by petrol bombs branded ‘most sophisticated in the UK’

A drug baron who set up the most ‘highly sophisticated’ subterranean cannabis factories ever seen in the UK – and protected them with petrol bombs and a Kalashnikov gun – is facing jail after being found guilty yesterday.  The military-style cannabis complex made of buried shipping containers in Essex was hidden behind concealed trapdoors and protected by an arsenal of weapons including petrol bombs, a Kalashnikov rifle, shotguns and guard dogs.  Workers at the complex in Essex even had their own sleeping quarters, but most of the defendants insisted they thought they were working at a landfill site for a few hundred pounds per week.  At a month long trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court, prosecutor Bill McGivern told jurors: ‘This was taking cannabis production to a level of sophistication never before seen in the United Kingdom. ‘This was organised along almost military lines.  ‘It required investment in time, planning, machinery, substantial amounts of money and not least people to operate the business

Police raided the site on 22 February this year and found a trapdoor in a portable cabin leading to a ‘fully functional cannabis factory’ made of five buried shipping containers containing 297 cannabis plants.  Two similar bunkers were found, one of which appeared to be about to go into production and another from which cannabis had apparently recently been harvested.  Shocked police found nearly £20,000 in cash in a cabin used as an office, two working handguns, one of which was stored inside a paper tray of the photocopier, an imitation gun and a stash of ammunition.  A Kalashnikov assault rifle, a handgun and two sawn-off shotguns were in another container, and three primed petrol bombs and a supply of petrol were also found in one of the sleeping areas.  The office had £14,500 in cash on a desk, with £3,780 in a safe, as well as a computer showing online research into setting up a cannabis factory from 2010, and purchases of equipment including high wattage light bulbs from Ebay.

Jaguar-driving site owner John Reilly, 46, admitted producing cannabis and a series of firearms charges.  Reilly, of Stepney, east London, admitted producing cannabis between 1 July 2010 and 22 February 2011, and possessing three prohibited firearms – two self-loading pistols, and a Colt revolver.  He also admitted possessing an AKM assault rifle, 132 bulleted cartridges, and two shotguns. The drug lord now faces sentence on a date to be fixed.  But site security guard Georghe Anton, 49, was cleared of producing cannabis at the site in Rainham, Essex.  Officer worker Lisa Shortall, 29, who banked £125,000 over a few weeks on behalf of Reilly’s failing company Express Auctions shook and burst into tears as she was cleared.

Irish national Rory McEleavey, 22, and Romanians Ionel Lazar, 22; Bogden Oncioiu, 24; Christian-Mircea Lungu, 39, were also acquitted by the jury of producing the drug.  McEleavey maintained he was just visiting the site at the time of the raid to bid on a truck online for his haulage business.  Shortall, of South Ockendon, and McEleavey, of Chatham, Kent, were cleared of producing cannabis between 1 July 2010 and 22 February 2011.  Romanians Ionel Lazar, Bogden Oncioiu, Georghe Anton and his son-in-law Christian-Mircea Lungu, all of whom were apparently living at the site, were cleared of the same charge.  They will be sentenced on a date to be fixed.

via : Dailymail

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