Cannabis smuggling crime group jailed for 14 years

Four Manchester men involved in an £800,000 cannabis trafficking operation have been sentenced to a combined 13 years and nine months in prison following a National Crime Agency investigation.

Daniel Gore, 41, Javid Ahmed, 49, John Arnold, 56, and Scott Hoolighan, 36, were arrested in February 2018 when 110kg of cannabis was intercepted in a flatbed van by NCA officers as it was transported from Northolt, London to Manchester.

The group attempted to evade detection by swapping between flatbed vans midway through their journey, and stopping and starting at various points. They communicated throughout using encrypted mobile telephone devices.

The drugs had been concealed within industrial sized tins labelled ‘Panko Breadcrumbs’, and had been transported from Alicante, Spain by a legitimate haulier before being collected in London by the group.

The plot was aided by an Albanian crime group based in Alicante.

Two other men, who investigators believe were involved in the importation, fled the UK immediately following the seizure and remain wanted.

Ringleader Gore pleaded guilty to conspiring to import and supply class B drugs in November 2019.

Hoolighan, Arnold and Ahmed were found guilty of conspiring to supply class B drugs following two separate trials at Manchester Crown Court.

Yesterday (20 August 2020) Gore was sentenced to five years in prison and Hoolighan to three years and nine months.

Arnold and Ahmed were both jailed for two years.

Nigel Coles, Operations Manager, NCA, said

“We have prevented the successful importation of a sizeable amount of cannabis, preventing those involved from selling in the UK, and ensuring they were brought to account.

“The profits made from illegal drugs are often re-invested into other forms of serious and organised crime, fuelling violence and exploitation.”

“The NCA continues to target organised crime groups seeking to profit from international drug supply.”