Drug-growing gang members sentenced
OFFICERS investigating a major drugs ring in Cornwall managed to put a stop to a cannabis farm in Penzance worth tens of thousands of pounds.
At Truro Crown Court on Friday, Adam Petrauske, James Strain, Neil Clarke and Henry Tydeman, were sentenced to a total of eight years' imprisonment for their parts in the drug-related activities.
The police investigation that led to the convictions, named Operation Ipanema Phase II, was formed during the first phase of Operation Ipanema, which focused on organised crime in the Falmouth area and saw 21 people receive sentences of more than 100 years' imprisonment in June.
Officers caught the second round of defendants by placing a recording device into the car of ringleader Angelo Kortje, who has since absconded to Spain and is wanted by police.
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On April 6, 2011, Kortje was found to be driving to Cornwall to check on cannabis growing in Penzance, which was due to be harvested.
Bathsheba Cassel, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Kortje also planned to enforce a drug debt in the St Austell area.
Officers were able to listen into conversations had by the three men in the car, which detailed the St Austell plan, which was to include a reconnaissance trip that evening and also about the cannabis growing at 68 Causewayhead, Penzance, which was later valued by drugs experts to be worth £26,000 to £33,000.
Tydeman, 24, of Cardinnis Road, Penzance, who was sub-letting his property in Penzance for the cannabis to be grown, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of the Class B drug.
He was sentenced to one year's imprisonment suspended for two years with 240 hours of unpaid work and £1,000 costs.
Ms Cassel said Strain, 26, of St John's Place, West Yorkshire, and Clarke, 32, of Wellington Street, Birkenshaw, were hired to imprison a man, who cannot be named, use violence against him and get money from the drug debt.
The conversations led police to Christopher Snow, 29, of Alderwood Parc, Penryn, and Petrauske, who were heard having phone conversations with Kortje during the journey.
Ms Cassel described Petrauske, 26, of Prislow Place, Falmouth, as Kortje's business partner in Cornwall, while Snow, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to produce cannabis and transferring criminal property earlier this year and is due to be sentenced in December, was employed by the pair as a "gardener".
Police followed members of the group, stopping Kortje several times and seizing £6,000 worth of cannabis from Snow on April 7.
Petrauske pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce cannabis and conspiring to transfer criminal property and was jailed for three years.
Strain and Clarke admitted conspiring to commit false imprisonment and were jailed for two and a half years each.