Men jailed over £750k cannabis operation in Norwich storage unit
- Credit: Norfolk Constabulary
Two men have been jailed for their roles in running an operation to supply “very substantial quantities” of cannabis stored on a Norwich industrial estate.
Rolandas Zukas, 41, and Karolis Putriunas, 30, were caught red handed entering a locked unit at a storage business on Vulcan Road found to contain almost 36kg of cannabis.
Staff at the rental storage had alerted police after becoming aware of the overwhelming smell of cannabis.
Prosecutor Duncan O’Donnell told Norwich Crown Court officers discovered 33.9kg of bagged up cannabis heads with a street value of almost £350,000.
Other bags were found to contain what appeared to be sealed boxes of Ariel washing powder but actually contained 2.58kg of ground cannabis worth about £28,000.
Fans, air filters and an electricity timing switchboard used in the growing of drugs were also discovered together with air fresheners to help hide the smell, he added.
Police who staked out the storage facility arrested Zukas and Putriunas as they unlocked the unit on September 10 this year.
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A hidden police camera captured the moment the baffled pair were confronted with an empty unit before officers swooped.
Mr O’Donnell said CCTV showed both they and other unknown men had repeatedly visited the lock-up since it was rented by Putriunas on June 24. Footage showed them carrying out bags on numerous occasions.
Police estimate they may have removed cannabis with at least the same value as was eventually recovered, he added.
The pair, who are both Lithuanian nationals, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class B drugs.
Robert Pollington, defending, said Putriunas had been “manipulated and foolish” and pressured to become involved in the operation after falling into debt over his own cannabis use.
Zukas, who had told police he believed he was moving bags of clothes rather than drugs, had got involved after being unable to find work in the UK, said Mr Pollington.
While his role had been substantial the operation involved others and he was an “employee in a bigger machine”, he added.
The court heard Zukas had previously been jailed in Lithuania for extortion, theft and criminal damage and had been jailed in France for criminal conspiracy and burglary before being deported in 2016.
Jailing Zukas for three years and three months and Putriunas for two years and nine months, recorder Sarah Fraser Butlin said: “This was a highly sophisticated operation in which you played a significant role.”