Ipswich/Shotley: �8million cannabis gang due to be sentenced

EIGHT men are due to be sentenced next month after admitting offences following the seizure of cannabis worth around �8million.

The haul was discovered on the day police raided 19 premises in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex.

Three of the men who have pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court to various charges relating to the Class B drug are from the Shotley, Ipswich and Woodbridge areas .

David Howard, 38, of Erwarton, and Ivan Patten, 24, of Tovells Road, Ipswich, have admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis. Howard has also admitted money laundering charges.

Gary Sherman, 40, of Ipswich Avenue, Sutton, is due to be sentenced for possessing a Class B drug and money laundering.

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Jonathan Roberts, 34, of Cowdray Avenue, Colchester, and Kerr John Smith, 52, of Lawrence Place, Foxley, near Dereham in Norfolk, have also been convicted of conspiring to supply a Class B dug.

Jonathan Bird, of Longdell Hills, Norwich was convicted of the conspiracy to supply cannabis, possessing a prohibited weapon and money laundering.

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Robert Moore, 41, of Ingram Piece, Ardleigh, was also convicted of conspiring to supply a Class B drug and possession of a Class A drug.

An eighth man, Michael Cookson, 35, of Hyde, Manchester, is due to be sentenced for possession with intent to supply a Class B drug.

All the arrests came as a result of a major investigation, codenamed Operation Chalk, which culminated in more than a dozen arrests.

The series of swoops were carried out in the counties in December last year as part of the inquiry by the Eastern Regional Special Operations Unit (ESROU).

Among the locations where premises were targeted were Ipswich, Rushmere St Andrew, Erwarton, Sutton, Harkstead Hall Industrial Estate, Holton St Mary near Hadleigh, and Elmswell.

Specialist search teams and dog units were among those who took part in the raids.

During the early part of the crackdown more than 400 kilos of cannabis was seized.

However, later in the day a very large seizure was made after more of the drug was found in Norfolk. The total haul is understood to have come to 1.8 tonnes.

At the time, officers from ESROU said the operation was aimed at smashing a European network suspected of importing drugs into the eastern region from Holland.

A key part of the inquiry’s success was said to be based on the intelligence provided by members of the public.

All eight convicted men are due to be sentenced sometime in the three weeks commencing November 5.

Moore, Patten, and Sherman are currently on bail, while the remaining five are remanded in custody.

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