A MAN from Bromsgrove is among five people sentenced to more than 88 years in prison after a £60million drugs empire built on ‘human pain and suffering’ was uncovered.
The gang was jailed for a combined 88 years and ten months for their part in smuggling the haul into the UK.
Run from a small office on a farm in Kempsey, Worcester, the operation saw drugs including cannabis, amphetamines and MDMA imported from various locations in the Netherlands.
Legitimate hauliers were used but had no idea of the loads they were carrying.
Once in the country, the drugs were then taken to haulage yards in the West Mercia area and at other Midlands locations before the parcels were separated and subsequently collected by organised crime groups from around the UK.
At Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (November 21), Robert Whitehouse, of Bromsgrove, was sentenced to 22 years and six months behind bars for conspiracy to import class A, conspiracy to import class B, conspiracy to supply MDMA, conspiracy to supply amphetamine and conspiracy to supply cannabis.
The 68-year-old pleaded guilty at the same court on May 9
Another Worcestershire man, Robert Scott, 67, of Broughton Hackett, was handed 20 years in jail for the same charges as Whitehouse.
He had also previously pleaded guilty on May 9 at the same court.
Operation Goal, launched in July last year and led by the Serious and Organised Crime unit of Warwickshire and West Mercia Police, saw a total of £13.5million worth of drugs seized which included more than 1,000kg of cannabis, 107kg of MDMA and 64kg of amphetamines.
It is one of the biggest investigations Warwickshire and West Mercia have ever conducted into the illegal drugs trade.
Det Insp Carl Moore, who led the investigation, said: “Operation Goal uncovered a significant organised crime group who were responsible for important and distributing significant amounts of controlled drugs around the UK.
“The success of the investigation relied upon close co-operation with law enforcement agencies around the United Kingdom and Europe.
“The sentences handed out today should serve as a significant deterrent to anyone involved in criminality of this kind.”
Other men sentenced included Richard Dale, 51, of Walsall who was given 12 years, Peter Hillback, 42, also of Walsall, who was handed 14 years and four months and Jacobus Martinus Samson, 64 from the Netherlands – he was jailed for 20 years.
Kiernan Cunningham, Senior Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands CPS’ complex casework unit, added: “These individuals have been sentenced for their part in an organised criminal empire which was built on human pain and suffering.
“By all of their illegal actions these defendants were intending to add to that pain and suffering.”
Anyone who suspects illegal drug activity can call police on the 101 number or contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Cannabis seized at a haulage yard in the Walsall area as part of Operation Goal. (s)
Trays of amphetamine were also seized at a haulage yard in the Walsall area as part of Operation Goal. (s)
Samson was also jailed for 20 years for his part in the operation. (s)
Scott, of Broughton Hackett, was sent to prison for 20 years. (s)
A sentence of 12 years was given to Dale. (s)
Hillback was sentenced to 14 years and four months behind bars. (s)