The Barry-based enterprise, run by Ryan Hales, 29, and Lewis Howell, 26, recruited users who owed them debts to run and store drugs.
An organised crime gang were involved in the supply of wholesale quantities of cannabis and recruited users who owed them debts to run and store drugs. They also spoke about ways of grooming young people to become involved in the enterprise.
Ryan Hales, 29, led the group but trusted his “right hand man” and “lieutenant” Lewis Howell, 26, to run the Barry-based operation and instructed others when it came to the supply of cannabis. He boasted in a text message he would make up to £2,000 a week.
A sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court on Thursday heard Howell had failed to stop while being pursued by police in January 2020 but after the driver came forward, he was arrested and his phone was seized by police. An examination of the phone led to the discovery of the cannabis conspiracy.
A number of drug warrants were executed in October 2020 as a result of the evidence on the phone, leading to the arrests of Hales and Howell and their associates Rhydian Stringer, 24, Chelsea Hutcheon, 24, brother and sister Keiron, 24, and Chloe Dimond, 23, and Ciaran Sinnott, 28.
When police raided the homes of couple Stringer and Hutcheon, they found various sweet tubs containing around £9,000 of cannabis, and when the home of the Dimond siblings was searched, various drug paraphernalia including scales was discovered. Howell was found in possession of 10 bags of cannabis in his car, valued between £500 and £2,600 and Hales was found in possession of £9,000 in cash.
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