Gang who ran £10m-a-year cannabis operation in Northampton must make repayments or face longer jail time

A criminal gang who ran a £10 million cannabis operation in Northampton have been ordered to pay back over £165,000 at Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) hearings.

Back in October 2014, police officers discovered 3,400 cannabis plants at a rented warehouse in Brackmills. Detectives traced the operation back to five people who were all sentenced for their involvement in September 2017:

- Dinesh Khetani, aged 33, of Brent, London, was found guilty to conspiracy to produce cannabis at the end of a trial in August 2017. He was jailed for six years.

- Peter Brown, aged 28, of Stanford Le Hope, Thurrock, Essex, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce cannabis and was also jailed for six years.

- Kyle Nixon, aged 27, of Hoo, Rochester, Kent, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce cannabis and was imprisoned for three years and four months.

- Warren Willsher, aged 27, of East Ham, London, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce cannabis and received a sentence of three years and four months.

- Nicola Bowers, aged 29, of Stanford Le Hope, Thurrock, Essex, pleaded guilty to money laundering. She was sentenced to four months suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 120 hours unpaid work.

As well as the sentences handed out, all five will now have to repay some of the money they made. It is thought that the operation would have generated £10 million a year had it been allowed to continue.

Dinesh Khetani has been ordered to pay £30,000, Peter Brown has been ordered to pay £66,735, Kyle Nixon has been ordered to pay £61,711 and Nicola Bowers has been ordered to pay £4,986. All four will have three months to pay what they owe or face additional time in prison. Warren Willsher was ordered to pay £2,550 in two months.

Detective Sergeant Alex O’Meara, who led the investigation at the time, said: “These successful POCA results show that Northamptonshire Police is dedicated to putting criminals behind bars and will use all available tactics to ensure that they do not benefit from the proceeds of crime.

“This was a very large criminal enterprise that was capable of producing a vast quantity of cannabis. Drug production is the first step towards more serious violent offences being committed in our neighbourhoods and the public can be reassured that the serious and organised crime team in this county will continue to target those involved in drug supply.

“I hope this result sends a clear message to our communities that there is no benefit from a life of crime.”