Boss of 'industrial-scale' drugs network caught after pictures found on his phone

Boss of 'industrial-scale' drugs network caught after pictures found on his phone

A career criminal has been jailed for running an "industrial-scale" drugs network - after a picture of him counting a large wad of cash was found on his phone.

Images of rooms packed with cannabis plants were also discovered on a mobile belonging to Nigel Barwell, West Midlands Police said.

Boss of 'industrial-scale' drugs network caught after pictures found on his phone

Barwell, of James Galloway Close, Binley, Coventry, was jailed for four years and six months at Birmingham Crown Court after admitting cultivation of cannabis.

Police said the 29-year-old ran cannabis farms at five addresses across Coventry which had the potential to net him £400,000 a year.

The makeshift factories were uncovered after 40 mature cannabis plants were found at a property in the Willenhall area of the city on February 26 last year.

Forensic examination of the flat's electricity meter - which had been tampered with to abstract power for free - revealed Barwell's fingerprints, while his DNA was also recovered from a cigarette butt found in an ashtray.

Follow-up raids led to the seizure of more plants and growing kit at other addresses.

Barwell was arrested from prison in Worcestershire on April 10 while on remand for dangerous driving but refused to answer questions in interview.

Commenting on the case, investigating officer, DC Rory Juss, said: "A drugs expert estimated Barwell could have made upwards of £400,000 a year from his network of cannabis factories and there was evidence in the form of text messages to suggest he was looking to expand his operation.

"Barwell is a career criminal, with a long history of offending, and there is little doubt that his drugs empire would be linked to wider criminality impacting on people across Coventry.

"I'm satisfied he's been put behind bars for a lengthy period and he will be robustly managed by our offender management team upon his eventual release.

"A Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing has also been scheduled for later this year when we will look to recover any money or assets Barwell made.

"We're determined there will be no drug money left for him to count when he's eventually released from prison."

Boss of 'industrial-scale' drugs network caught after pictures found on his phone

Two other men, aged 22 and 25, were given shorter prison terms for their roles in the cultivation of the drugs.

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