Gang jailed for smuggling cannabis in orange juice cartons

One of the orange juice cartons used to smuggle cannabis into the north

THREE members of an organised crime gang who smuggled cannabis worth £800,000 into Northern Ireland in cartons of orange juice have been jailed.

The men, all from Birmingham in England, were sentenced at Newry Crown Court on Tuesday following a probe by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

All three were sentenced to 14 months in jail and 14 months on licence.

Mark Fleetwood (53) of Dingle Side, Hall Green, and Paul Green (63) of Weatherfield Road, Tyseley, pleaded guilty to importing a class B drug and possession of a class B drug with intent to supply after they were seen packing 167kg of cannabis resin into a white van at a retail park in Camlough, Co Armagh in April 2015.

The drugs, which had a potential street value of £800,000, had been hidden among orange juice cartons in pallets imported from Spain via Dublin.

The group's fixer, Stephen Dainty (54) of Pool Farm Road, Acocks Green, was jailed for importing a Class B drug.

He had rented a unit in the retail park, organised the delivery of the consignment and arranged for Fleetwood and Green to travel from Birmingham to Newry to get the drugs.

Rob Burgess from the NCA said: "We caught Mark Fleetwood and Paul Green with a substantial amount of cannabis resin which, if sold on, would have generated significant cash to potentially fund more criminality. We are grateful for the support of PSNI in disrupting the group's activities and ensuring the drugs did not make it to the streets of Northern Ireland.

"The NCA will continue to work in partnership to protect Northern Ireland from criminals who try to exploit borders and bring them to justice."

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