Corby men jailed for importing and growing £700,000 worth of cannabis
Two men from Corby have been jailed for nine years between them for attempting to import and grow cannabis.
Miroslav Krmpotic, 38, of Stone House Mews in Corby, was sentenced to seven years in prison and Cedo Novakovic, 53, of Rockingham Road in Corby, was jailed for two years.
They were convicted of growing and importing cannabis worth almost £700,000 through an illegal scheme run by Krmpotic.
Investigating officer Alex Curlett said: "This was persistent and determined offending by a man [Krmpotic] who deliberately set out to cultivate large quantities of illegal drugs for his own gain, before turning to his importation set-up when his UK-based growing operations were thwarted."
A third man, Nenand Bobic, 57, also of Rockingham Road in Corby, was given a 12-month suspended sentence in 2018 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to import and produce cannabis.
In the summer of 2014, Krmpotic set up a cannabis factory in Weldon's High Street after his set-up in Wolverhampton had been burgled and his plants stolen.
Northamptonshire Police raided his Weldon factory in July, where officers found 227 plants and harvested cannabis worth £450,000.
Krempotic's supply was interrupted by this raid, so he turned to importing from Europe and employed a number of people to collect and drive the drugs back to the UK.
One shipment was driven by Novakovic in September 2014, but he was stopped at Dover by the UK Border Agency who discovered the 22kg stash worth £214,000 in a false ceiling of the van.
A second shipment being driven on behalf of Krmpotic was found in Dover the following month. This van was being driven by Bobic and contained eight parcels of cannabis weighing 2kg and worth almost £20,000.
In September 2015, police found another cannabis factory that Krempotic had set up in Wolverhampton, but it was found before it was operational.
Krmpotic was arrested and charged by Northamptonshire Police on March 20, 2016 but he fled the country.
He was eventually arrested in Barcelona in May 2019 and was returned to the UK in June this year.
Krempotic's trial started on November 11 at Northampton Crown Court and on the second day he pleaded guilty to conspiring to produce a controlled drug and two charges of conspiring to import a controlled drug into the UK.
He was sentenced to seven years for conspiring to producing a controlled drug, with a further seven years for conspiring to import a controlled drug and another five years for conspiring to import a controlled drugs.
The sentences are to be served concurrently, so he will serve seven years in prison.
His Honour Judge Michael Fowler told Krmpotic: "I have no hesitation in concluding you are properly sentenced as having a leading role in these enterprises.
"Having regard to the number of grows and the fact that there are both offences of conspiracy to produce cannabis and import it into the country, I am confident to place this at the top of category 2 dealing with the matter effectively as an overall conspiracy to produce and introduce cannabis into market in the UK."
Novakovic was sentenced to two years in prison for his role in the importing scheme, which the judge acknowledged was a "lesser" role, but said he was acting autonomously when he was sent abroad to collect the drugs, organising payment and supervising loading.
Investigating officer Curlett added: "Krmpotic’s offending may have taken place years ago, but officers have remained active in this case to ensure it could be successfully brought to court so he could be punished for his actions.
"Tackling drug and gang-related offending is a priority for Northamptonshire Police, and those who seek to profit from such illegal activity will be relentlessly pursued.
"The conclusion of proceedings against Krmpotic after all these years shows our force will not rest in the pursuit of justice."