18.04.2013 | no replies
Flowers Gang: Leader of biggest cannabis smuggling ring ordered to repay £1.7m or face life sentence
The druglord behind Britain's biggest cannabis smuggling ring was today ordered to pay back almost £1.7million - or face a life sentence.
Anthony Mills, 44, led a 12-strong gang who shipped £56million worth of the drug hidden in crates of flowers from Holland up until 2008.
The dozen members of the 'Flowers Gang' were jailed for more than 100 years in total.
They flooded Britain's streets with almost 19 tonnes of the drug in just two years between June 2006 and November 2008.
Police who raided the gang's safe houses discovered wads of £20 notes literally rotting away after they struggled to spend the cash quickly enough.
Members enjoyed holidays in Dubai, Italy and Spain, and invested in 12 plush £500,000 property developments in Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands.
Mills was described as one of Britain's most wanted fugitives after fleeing to Holland when police swooped on the drug ring in 2008.
He was later arrested in Amsterdam and jailed for 17-and-a-half years following a trial in 2011.
Mills' deputy, Terence Bowler, 44, got 16 years, while directors Peter Moran, 40, a second cousin of Labour MP Siobhan McDonagh and Mark Kinnimont, 43, were each caged for 14 years.
Judge Gregory Stone QC ordered that the four men pay almost £6m within six months - or face years added to their sentences.
Mills must pay almost £1.7m or face an additional seven years in prison.
Bowler and Moran must each pay almost £1.5m or spend an extra six-and-a-half years in jail.
Kinnimont was ordered to pay almost £1.3m or spend an extra six years in prison.
Southwark Crown court heard they have been 'reduced to a state of bankruptcy' as a result of the confiscation order.
Mills created a 'board of directors' overseeing a nationwide drug sales network from company headquarters in Surrey.
Prosecutor Timothy Cray said: "If the man pushing cannabis on the street, the small-time dealer, is equivalent to the market trader selling his fruit and veg outside London Bridge station, then this group were the big players, the Tesco.
"We say Anthony Mills was the director of this Tesco."
Mills also oversaw a huge money laundering operation, setting up companies in international tax havens Switzerland, Panama and the British Virgin Islands, to hide profits.
He also had interests in UK property through his security consultancy company, A and M Services, which claimed to specialise in surveillance and phone tapping.
The weed was grown in vast greenhouses hidden among legitimate crops. Regular shipments arrived via Harwich port in Suffolk hidden inside boxes of flowers from Holland, labelled 'American Leaf'.
When customs officials the ferry port disrupted their supply chain by seizing a £750,000 shipment, the crooks simply switched their operation to Hull in the North East.
The crates were dropped off at a warehouse registered to T&K Flowers in Chatham, Kent, before being delivered to secure lock-ups in Kingston, Worcester Park, Epsom, and Ashtead, all in Surrey.
The traffickers sold on the skunk at £3,400 a kilo, a huge mark-up on the £2,200 they paid to their Dutch suppliers.
The drugs were then sold on the street at £5,760 per kilo.
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