Secret nuclear bunker cannabis gang jailed

Media caption, The judge said they had run the biggest cannabis factory ever seen in the south of England

Three men who converted a former nuclear bunker into a giant cannabis farm have been jailed.

The men used the underground complex near Tisbury undetected for three years to grow £6m worth of the drug.

Martin Fillery, 45, Plamen Nguyen, 27, and Ross Winter, 30, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to conspiracy to produce class B drugs and abstracting electricity.

Sentencing took place at Salisbury Crown Court on Friday.

Fillery of Pedwell Hill, Ashcott, Bridgwater, received a total of eight years in prison for conspiracy to produce cannabis, abstracting electricity and money laundering.

Nguyen of Bartholomews Square, Horfield, Bristol, and Winter of Maytree Avenue, Bristol, were both jailed for a total of five years each for the same offences.

'Industrial scale'

Sentencing the men, Judge Keith Cutler said: "Each of you has played a part in what amounts to one of the most serious crimes that this area has seen for a long while."

He added their production of cannabis was on "an industrial scale".

Image source, Wiltshire Police
Image caption, Martin Fillery, (left) Plamen Nguyen (centre) and Ross Winter pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce class B drugs and abstracting electricity

Wiltshire Police said the men had set up "without doubt the largest cannabis factory we have seen here in the county" at RGHQ Chilmark.

Their capture had prevented an "enormous amount" of the drug being sold on the streets, police added.

The trio employed a group of four "gardeners" to live in the bunker and tend to the crops 24 hours a day.

The court also heard they stole £650,000 worth of electricity from a nearby pylon to power the farm.

Image source, Wiltshire Police
Image caption, More then 4,000 cannabis plants - worth around £2m a year to the gang - were seized in a midnight raid on RGHQ Chilmark in February

The gang converted 20 rooms into nurseries, drying rooms and a home for the workers while tonnes of fertiliser was used.

The former bunker was built in 1985 and designed to house 150 officials in the event of a nuclear war. It was later sold by the Ministry of Defence.

Police were tipped off by a delivery driver who reported a cannabis smell at the site and officers carried out three periods of CCTV surveillance before raiding the bunker in February 2017.

The men also faced charges of conspiring to hold another person in slavery/servitude but Wiltshire Police said they had been dropped due to a lack of evidence.

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