THREE men have today been sentenced for a combined 10 years and three months following a covert police operation uncovering the import of 196 kilograms of cannabis through West Thurrock.
Robert Preston, 54, Lee Samways, 25, both of Great Stony Park, Ongar, and Stephen Demetriou, 23, of Wallace Way, Romford, planned to sell almost Â£2 million of cannabis on the streets of Essex.
Appearing at Basildon Crown Court today, Preston and Demetriou were given sentences of four years and three months, with Samways jailed for 21 months.
Preston and Demetriou had admitted conspiracy to import Class B drugs and money laundering, while Samways initially denied a charge conspiracy to import, before later pleading guilty a week before his trial was scheduled in October 2014.
DC Jo Worrow, said: “Thanks to a covert operation by the Essex Police Serious and Organised Crime Unit almost 200 kilos of skunk cannabis were seized and prevented from reaching the streets of Essex.
“This organised crime group has now been dismantled and their sentences will prevent them from continuing their drug dealing enterprise and stop them from gaining further from it financially.
Police had observed Preston and Samways collecting cannabis under the guise of couriers collecting fish food for their front of Gillingham McCarthy Fishbaits.
They detained Preston and Samways on the A13 roundabout at junction 31 of the M25 with the cannabis, and later arrested Demetriou, the director of Gillingham McCarthy Fishbaits.
Anyone with information on the illegal supply of drugs can to contact Essex Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.