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Lytham St. Anne’s Man Jailed For His Role In Importing Cannabis In Pallets Of Vegetables

A highly organised crime ring with links throughout Europe were caught red-handed by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after shipping £2million of cannabis into Seaforth docks. The cannabis was stashed in pallets of broccoli, kale and lettuce.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that a 61-year-old man from Lytham St. Anne’s, Gary Sarson, played a significant role in the criminal operation whilst David Hunter, 51, was at the head of the conspiracy, closely supported by his trusted associates, 48-year-old Stephen Quigley and Gary McEvatt, 38. Also involved were John Ianson, 58, and Andrew Unsworth, 41, both described as minions who were paid to do the heavy lifting. All six men appeared for sentence at Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday 19th July, more than five years after the shipment was intercepted by the National Crime Agency.

The plan to import cannabis was foiled when Border Force officers carried out an X-ray examination on a shipment of vegetables which had arrived at Seaforth Docks, Liverpool.  This examination revealed anomalies.  A physical search of the cargo revealed 406 kilos of herbal cannabis and cannabis resin, with an overall street value estimated at £2,191,680, hidden among the vegetables. Border Force officers replaced the drugs with a dummy package and allowed the cargo on its way. The load, now minus the cannabis, eventually turned up at Moss Side Farm in Lancashire where it was met by Ianson and Unsworth. As these two men began unloading the pallets, the NCA swooped in and arrested them. Sarson’s vehicle was also spotted at the site.

At the same time NCA officers also picked up Hunter in Trafford Park, McEvatt near Ribby Hall and Quigley walking away from the Kingfisher Pub near Fylde FC’s ground. Sarson was later invited for voluntary interview.

Following the NCA’s operation, Hunter, McEvatt and Quigley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cannabis. Sarson, Ianson and Unsworth took the case to trial. Ianson admitted his guilt on the first day of the trial. Sarson and Unsworth were convicted by the jury.

Liverpool Crown Court Judge David Aubrey, KC, jailed Sarson of Wigeon Row, Lytham St Anne’s, for five years.

The Judge also described the five year delay to the case arriving in court as unacceptable. The case had been sent to the CPS in London as the North West offices had no capacity.

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