January 29, 2021 9.59 am This story is over 40 months old

Weed farm gang jailed for over 13 years

The escape hatch they built couldn’t save them from a prison sentence

By Local Democracy Reporter

An organised crime gang have been jailed for a total of 13 and a half years after their £500,000 drug operation in an abandoned Grimsby bank was uncovered by police.

Evaldas Medelis, 29, and Laminonas Navickas, 23, both of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to production of cannabis and were sentenced to three and a half years each in prison.

Karolis Rusevicius, 27, of Mapperley Plains, Nottingham, was found guilty of production of cannabis, intent to supply, two counts of possession of criminal property and possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Following the four day trial, Rusevicius was jailed for six and a half years.

The court heard that a sophisticated operation had been found after a report from the public of a suspicious vehicle at the empty Bethlehem Street property.

When police checked the van, it had been reported stolen and was stopped by officers a short time later.

Just some of the plants that were in the back of the stolen van. | Photo: Humberside Police

80 cannabis plants were found in the back of the van, which prompted police to check inside the building, an old bank.

A number of growing areas were found, with hundreds of 3ft high plants inside, as well as a professional lighting and watering system.

To maintain secrecy, a disguised escape hatch had also been built, leading from the bank into the kitchen of the neighbouring flat.

Forensic evidence from the building led police to Karolis Rusevicius, who was living in Nottinghamshire.

He was caught by officers in his house, just as he was in the middle of counting out £20,000 in cash.

Two large vacuum bags of cannabis, as well as a handgun and live ammunition, were found at his house.

Detective Constable Philip Jacobs, of Humberside Police, called it one of the largest drug operations he has ever dealt with.

“We come to work every day to keep people safe and targeting organised criminals like this gang is a big part of that.

“I hope this will serve as a warning to other organised crime groups that Humberside is not somewhere where their activities will be tolerated.

“This was a very sophisticated set up – one of the largest I have ever dealt with – and in uncovering it we have prevented them from pocketing more than half a million pounds. We have also taken a gun off the streets.

“This case also shows the importance of getting in touch with us if you have information about crime in your area – this investigation started with a call from the public to report a suspicious van.”