Drug factory boss jailed in organised crime bust

Gary Lockett
Gary Lockett

A DRUG dealer who managed two cannabis factories as part of a Vietnamese Organised Crime Group has been jailed for eight years.

Gary Peter Lockett, from Simms Croft in Middleton, was sentenced at Amersham Crown Court on Friday for his involvement in a drug trade worth around £200,000 per year.

The 30-year-old appeared alongside Richard York, 31, who received a 14 month sentence for his part in the operation.

Lockett and York had been involved in the production of cannabis between January 1 and November 10 last year.

The charges and pleas were in relation to a cannabis factory found at York’s home address in Monro Avenue.

Lockett was also charged with conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis at Lundholme in Heelands. He was later found guilty of conspiring to produce cannabis.

The convictions come after an operation by Thames Valley Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit.

On March 7, 2011, a warrant was carried out at the property in Lundholme, which had been modified to grow cannabis.

The only occupant of the house was Reing Phen, a Vietnamese man now aged 19. He was arrested on suspicion of cultivation of cannabis and 132 cannabis plants were recovered.

Phen admitted he’d been employed by a Vietnamese Organised Crime Group and was later convicted of cannabis production and received an 18 month custodial sentence.

Street value of the cannabis seized was about £46,220. It had been set up on a rotation system to produce three crops a year, meaning the annual yield would have been £138,660 of cannabis.

Officers then carried out another warrant at Monro Avenue on June 2 last year, where they seized 59 cannabis plants, including 28 mature plants, from a garage area which had been converted into a ‘grow room’ facility.

A further 31 smaller cannabis cuttings were found in a first floor bedroom along with other juvenile plants, indicating that the bedroom was being used as a ‘nursery’ for an intended follow-on crop.

The street value of the seized cannabis was estimated at between £9,060 to £15,860, with the annual yield worth between £36,240 and £63,660.

York was arrested and claimed the cannabis was for personal consumption. But expert evidence showed Monro Avenue was a commercial venture, and the level of production exceeded that which could be smoked by one person.

Both men were charged on November 10, 2011, after the investigation showed Lockett had involvement in the management of both cannabis factories.

Detective Constable Richard Jones said: “This case involved many months of protracted investigation, not least by Detective Constable Rod Rhymes who spent hundreds of hours sifting through a large amount of covertly obtained evidence.

“I am pleased with the sentences, which reflect the seriousness of the offences. Confiscation work is ongoing to seize any assets the men have made. Drug dealers need to know that we are dedicated to removing them and their enterprises from our streets, and seizing any assets they have made illegally.”