Two businessmen who imported more than 100kg of cannabis for sale on the streets of Northamptonshire have been jailed.
An estimated £300,000 worth of the drug was brought in to the UK from Greece by the pair, who delivered the drug in packages labelled as ‘dried flowers’ to properties they rented in and around the Brackley area.
The investigation began in April 2012 when officers from the UK Border Agency intercepted four parcels each containing 9kg of herbal cannabis destined for addresses in Northamptonshire.
Northamptonshire Police and the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) took on the case and discovered that a Brackley-based organised crime group (OCG) headed by property developer David Ward and John Pritchard was importing the cannabis for distribution into the Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire area.
Ward, 46, of Hastings Road, Banbury, Oxfordshire, and 57-year-old Pritchard, of Woodgreen, in Witney, also in Oxfordshire, both denied a charge of conspiracy to supply class B drugs but were found guilty following a trial at Northampton Crown Court.
At sentencing on September 16, presiding Judge Michael Fowler said: “This was a sophisticated operation that took a lot of planning by a group of established businessmen.”
Ward and Pritchard were each sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison.
Timothy Gosling, 48, of Caesars Gate, Brackley, who allowed two consignments to be sent to properties he owned, pleaded guilty to his involvement in the conspiracy and was sentenced to three years and three months in prison.
Ward is pictured left and Pritchard on the right.