Two Margate men are among 15 who have been convicted for being part of an organised crime group which ran a multi-million pound conspiracy to cultivate cannabis.
Christopher Marsh, 30 and of Ethelbert Road in Margate, and Damon Mills, 18 also of Ethelbert Road in Margate, have admitted charges of conspiring to produce cannabis and of abstracting electricity
They were arrested during an investigation into a group who produced industrial amounts of cannabis, estimated to have had an annual yield of over £25 million, at locations across Kent and Norfolk in 2013 and 2015.
It is believed to be the biggest conspiracy to cultivate cannabis uncovered in the UK.
Following an investigation by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, Kent Police and Norfolk Police, a total of 15 people have now been convicted. Two people were found not guilty by a jury.
The group operated from sites in Rochester, Sittingbourne, Rochester and North Walsham in Norfolk.
Each location was set up in an almost identical manner – purpose built two story wooden constructions that had been created inside industrial units. The layout and equipment used was also identical.
A total of 16,428 cannabis plants were seized across the locations, including High Street, Rochester:Canal Basin, Gravesend; Laundry Loke in Norfolk and Staplehurst Road in Sittingbourne.
Prior to the first trial, which took place at the Old Bailey between 5 September and 28 November 2016, Marsh and Mills each admitted one count of conspiring to produce cannabis and one count of abstracting electricity.
Another 13 men were convicted of drug production and electricity abstraction charges at the Old Bailey following a number of guilty pleas and two trials between 5 September and 28 November 2016 and 3 April and 5 May 2017.
All those convicted are due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey in July.
£26million street value
Detective Inspector James Derham, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “This was a highly organised and prolific conspiracy to produce and sell cannabis on an industrial scale.
“We estimate the annual street value of these plants was in excess of £26 million – a significant amount of money that could have been used to fund further criminal activity.
“This case was a significant undertaking by the investigation team due to the level of sophistication and analytical work.
“This case sends out a clear message that Kent Police has the resources and expertise to bring offenders involved in high level, organised criminality to justice.”