Three men have today been sentenced after they cultivated a large scale cannabis factory in a nuclear bunker.
Martin Fillery, aged 45, of Pedwell Hill, Ashcott, Bridgwater, was sentenced to eight years for conspiracy to produce class B drugs, three years for abstracting electricity and three years for money laundering. The sentences will run concurrently.
Plamen Nguyen, aged 27, of Bartholomews Square, Horfield, Bristol, and Ross Winter, aged 30, of Maytree Avenue, Bristol, were both sentenced to five years each for conspiracy to produce class B drugs and two years for abstracting electricity. They will also run concurrently.
The trio were sentenced at Salisbury Crown Court today.
On 22 February 2017, officers from the Local Priority Team, carried out a midnight raid on RGHQ Chilmark – an underground nuclear bunker constructed in the 80s to house local government in the event of a nuclear attack during the height of the Cold War.
The site is no longer owned by the Ministry of Defence, however the bunker is still intact and the nuclear blast doors were still in place making the site almost completely impenetrable. Because of this obstacle, officers intercepted the three men as they left having gathered intelligence in relation to the site.
When the men left the site, they were detained. Officers used keys found in their possession to gain entry to the Bunker and found over 4,000 cannabis plants inside with the capability of producing £2 million worth of drugs a year.
In order to keep the factory up and running, the men had bypassed mains electricity into the site, subsequently illegally abstracting approximately £650,000 worth of electricity.
Detective Inspector Simon Pope said: “I am pleased with the sentencing handed out to Fillery, Winter and Nguyen – this was an enormous, sophisticated operation discovered following a really successful warrant by the Local Priority Team.
“Of course the nature of the site meant this was not an easy job, the bunker itself was isolated and secure. In order for us to intercept the operation, we required a huge number of resources to not only carry out the raid, but also dismantle the cannabis farm which was made up of 4,500 plants, and secure the site over the course of 10 days.
“This investigation has been a significant undertaking by Wiltshire Police into a highly profitable criminal enterprise and I am delighted that all the hard work has paid off, from the initial planning stages to ensure the raid went smoothly, through to the evidence gathering for the CPS.
“This was without doubt the largest cannabis factory we have seen here in the county, with almost all of the 20 rooms inside the bunker converted for the wholesale production of cannabis. The set-up had an illegal connection to the mains electrical supply, with the lighting equipment alone costing in the region of £140,000. The set-up was capable of producing a crop every six weeks.
“Not only have these men now been brought to justice, but we have prevented an enormous amount of cannabis from reaching the streets of Wiltshire and into the hands of vulnerable drug users."