Cannabis farm gang is handed jail term

The “trusted lieutenant” of a gang that ran a Staffordshire cannabis farm and smuggled £86,000 of the drugs through the Black Country was today starting a five-year jail sentence.

The “trusted lieutenant” of a gang that ran a Staffordshire cannabis farm and smuggled £86,000 of the drugs through the Black Country was today starting a five-year jail sentence.

Albanian Daniel Hyka was caught in a police swoop minutes after a taxi left his Wolverhampton home heading for Preston with eight kilos of the skunk, worth more than £80,000, in the boot.

Wolverhampton Crown Court was told that scales covered with traces of drugs, £18,000 cash and another kilo of cannabis were also found at the house in Paget Road, Whitmore Reans.

The fingerprints of 32-year-old Hyka were discovered on five of the bags holding drugs grown at the barn in Church Eaton, near Stafford, that he had arranged to be rented.

Mr Andrew Wallace, prosecuting, said: “He was the trusted lieutenant in the drugs conspiracy.”

Detectives investigating the Church Eaton cannabis ring saw a VW Passat linked to the address parked outside the house in Wolverhampton which they then kept under surveillance, the court heard yesterday.

They saw Pakistani taxi driver Haffeezerur Rehman, 31, arrive from Preston with Lithuanian-born passenger Vytautas Valantavicius, 26, and watched them go in and emerge with bags of drugs that were put in the boot.

Hyka, a trained welder and machine operator, turned to crime when his marriage broke down after he was made redundant, said Ms Sarah Buckingham, defending.

Hyka, who had been convicted of conspiracy to produce cannabis and supplying it after an earlier trial, was sentenced to five years.

Rehman, of Preston, received a two-year jail term after the jury found him guilty of possessing cannabis with intent to supply.

Valantavicius, also of Preston, was locked up for two years after admitting an identical offence.

All three face deportation.