A gang who imported 2.5 tonnes of cannabis worth more than £15 million from Spain have been jailed.
Drugs were hidden amongst kitchen equipment and vegetables in lorries arriving to the UK through Dover.
They were transported via fake businesses and lockups located in Manchester, Bolton and Warrington.
The gang even dug a secret underground bunker formed of buried storage containers on a farm in North Wales to grow cannabis within.
Between July 2017 and November 2017 seven deliveries of cannabis were imported to the UK via Spain through Port of Dover.
Drugs were concealed in packages labelled as oven filters. They purported to be destined for a kitchen firm.
But the business didn’t exist and the address associated with it actually referred to a yard containing lock-up units behind a convenience store on Newton Road, Lowton, Warrington.
Between September 2017 and August 2018 six further deliveries arrived through Dover with drugs concealed in pallets of lettuce and peppers.
This tranche was destined for a cold storage company in North Manchester.
Officers stopped the sixth delivery in Dover on 12 August 2018 and uncovered 177kg of cannabis with a street value of more than £1.5 million.
Police raided a unit at the site in Lowton which was owned by Tony Cadman.
Further investigations linked the unit to Michael Lawler, Wesley Kinsella and a second lock-up at Hartford Works, Western Street, Bolton.
Police executed a warrant at the lockup and found a stolen Mercedes which contained £20,000 worth of cannabis.
This recovery led police to Lee James Jackson and Scott Byrne.
Meanwhile, enquiries at legitimate storage companies found consignments were destined for onward delivery to ‘Bog Farm’ in North Wales.
Police raided the farm and a concealed underground bunker designed to grow cannabis.
They arrested Michael Harley, who was living in a caravan on the farm, as well as Michael Moore, who was living in the farmhouse.
Harley admitted that the underground bunker was built at the farm three years previously but that production there ceased shortly afterwards as it was too wet to grow cannabis.
Drugs imported using the concealments in the cooker filters to the lock up in Lowton totalled £6,600,000.
Drugs imported using the concealment in vegetable pallets North Manchester totalled £8,850,000.
The total value of drugs believed to have been imported by the organised crime group if sold on the street is £15,450,000.