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£300k confiscation after biggest-ever underground cannabis factory found

PUBLISHED: 09:29 05 July 2012 | UPDATED: 09:31 05 July 2012

The underground bunker, discovered in Rainham, was one of the biggest ever found in the UK

The underground bunker, discovered in Rainham, was one of the biggest ever found in the UK

Archant

A man sentenced for 12 years for drug dealing and firearms offences has been served with a £300,000 confiscation order following the discovery of what is believed to be the largest underground cannabis factory ever found in Britain.

John Reilly, 47, was arrested at his home in Stepney Green in February last year after The Met’s Territorial Support Group raided a suspected cannabis factory buried in a field at Rainham in Essex.

Officers discovered several large steel containers underground and dug into a hillside which contained active cannabis factories as well as cannabis-growing sites, Basildon Crown Court heard yesterday (Tues).

They also found an AK47 assault rifle, two sawn-off shotguns and three other guns, as well as loaded magazines, ammunition and shotgun cartridges.

The criminal investigation which followed resulted in Reilly’s arrest and later pleading guilty to drug and firearm charges. He received a 12-year jail term last July.

The TSG Payback Unit then started a financial investigation on Reilly to deprive him of his profits from this vast criminal enterprise.

Pol Sgt Dean Murray said: “This is a result against someone who hadn’t come to our notice for several years.

“A financial investigation uncovered cash in various bank accounts, ownership of a Jaguar XK car, as well as attempts by Reilly to buy a farm in a remote area of Essex where it was believed another substantial cannabis factory would have been set up.”

One officer, Pc David Webb, was thanked by the trial judge for his financial investigation.

Reilly now has three months to pay the £300,000 or face a further two years and three months’ jail—with the confiscation order still enforceable.

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