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Letting agents jailed for running £2m cannabis farms
26 April 2016
A pair of letting agents who ran a £2 million drugs operation from rental properties were jailed for eight years.
Police were tipped off about their activities and raided a former bar in Crystal Palace, South East London.
In the basement premises, they found 500 cannabis plants and sophisticated drugs farming equipment which bypassed electric meters. The haul was valued at more than £500,000 by police.
The agents – Aidan Lynch, 51, and Jason Smart, 47 - arrived while police were at the scene and claimed the bar had been rented out to an unknown man for £300 cash.
Police arrested them and later raided their homes and office for the agency, Home To Home in Forest Hill, South London.
From paperwork, police found that the pair had seven more drugs farms in properties they claim were let to unknown tenants, while £60,000 in cash was discovered at Lynch’s home.
Lynch was jailed for five years for conspiracy to produce cannabis and six counts of permitting a premises to be used as a cannabis factory.
His business partner Smart, 47 was imprisoned for three years for conspiracy to produce cannabis and four counts of permitting premises to be used as a cannabis factory.
Patrick McArdle, 37, was jailed for five years and six months after he was found guilty alongside Lynch and Smart of conspiracy to produce cannabis and production of cannabis from a separate inquiry in Essex.
McArdle was linked to Lynch and Smart from DNA found in gloves discovered at one of the drugs farms.
The three men denied the charges, but were found guilty after a three-week trial at Woolwich Crown Court.
Detective Constable Kirsty Marchi, of Lewisham Police, said: "Lynch and Smart claimed that they had no knowledge that their premises were used as cannabis factories and made out the discovery was simply unfortunate.
“Smart roped in McArdle, who he knew was a criminal and could produce the cannabis while Lynch would allow those properties to be let out knowing that they would be used as cannabis factories."