Croydon man convicted after biggest drug investigation in Europe
By adam_leone | Monday, December 24, 2012, 08:42
A man from Croydon, who was part of an 18 man strong drug organisation has been convicted of what's believed to be the biggest drug investigation in Europe.
50-year-old Shaun Byrne from New Addington
50-year-old Shaun Byrne from New Addington was part of a conspiracy, which the Met Police took over four years to investigate.
At the Old Bailey, the final members of the group were found guilty of conspiracy to facilitate the production of cannabis.
The investigation - conducted by the joint Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and MPS Middle Market Drugs Partnership - known as Operation Opaque began in November 2008 and targeted drugs importers, wholesalers and growers.
It is thought to be the largest drugs operation ever undertaken in the UK, and one of the largest in Europe.
During the investigation vast quantities of equipment used by criminals to facilitate the growing of cannabis on industrial scales were seized.
Dozens of business premises and warehouses, and more than fifteen residential addresses were searched. In addition approximately £35,000 in cash was recovered.
Twenty six people, aged between 15 and 57, were arrested in October 2010.
Specialist equipment was imported through different companies set up by the defendants from countries including China and Holland.
The majority of the defendants were drivers, cultivators or wholesalers.
Most of the equipment seized from the warehouses and business premises was suitable for producing cannabis in industrial quantities, and included goods specific to harvesting cannabis.
Once imported, the equipment was delivered to a number of warehouses for distribution or direct to individual cannabis farms around the UK.
Operation Opaque conducted surveillance on a number of occasions of large quantities of equipment leaving the distribution hubs.
On each occasion the load was delivered to a cannabis farm.
Commander Allan Gibson of the MPS, said: "This is the biggest investigation we have ever undertaken against organised criminals behind the cultivation of cannabis in the UK."
"We have been successful in dismantling a major criminal enterprise. I am pleased to see the lengthy deterrent sentences."
"They reflect the central role of the defendants in supplying equipment to enable criminals to set up cannabis factories throughout the country."