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Drugs network behind bars for almost 100 years

Monday, November 13, 2023

Members of an organised criminal group who ‘taxed’ rival gangs by stealing their cannabis grows have been jailed for more than 90 years.

In March 2022 the East Exploitation Team were tasked with investigating a gang in Burnley headed by Joshua Watson and Robert Ganley who were supplying substantial amounts of cannabis. More worryingly they were also ‘taxing’ other gang’s cannabis crop by breaking in to cannabis farms and taking the plants.

Operation Alberta was an offshoot of an investigation, named Op Callaway, into a shooting incident that took place on Salus Street in relation to a cannabis taxing. 

In November last year eight members of a Manchester-based organised criminal gang (OCG) were jailed for more than 80 years following our investigation into that shooting.

During the incident, which centred around the attempted taxing of a £220,000 cannabis farm in Salus Street on February 4, 2021, two people suffered gunshot injuries, one man suffered a serious head wound and vehicles were rammed. A car was later set alight in an attempt to destroy evidence.

The Op Alberta subjects were sentenced this week to jail terms totalling over 90 years. Many others were given suspended sentences.

Det Chief Supt Nick Connaughton said: “People have their own views on cannabis and whether or not it should be legalised, which is their prerogative. However, this case highlights the sheer levels of violence associated with cannabis cultivation and the lengths OCGs are prepared to go to.

“I am really pleased with the sentences handed down to these individuals and I hope it sends out a clear message that this kind of activity will not be tolerated on the streets of East Lancashire. If you do choose to engage in this behaviour then you should expect to be arrested, prosecuted and put behind bars for a significant period of time.

“I’d like to thank all the officers and staff who worked so hard to achieve this fantastic result.”

To report suspicious activity in your area visit Home - Lancashire Constabulary - Report Online or call 101. If a crime is in progress always call 999.

We’ll continue to tackle serious and organised crime in Lancashire as part of our Op Warrior delivering on Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden's Fighting Crime Plan priority of disrupting and dismantling organised crime.


Callum Duffy, 27, NFA. Burglary, supply of cocaine, supply of cannabis. Nine years three months

Josh Watson, 30, Parkinson Street, Burnley. Burglary, supply of cocaine, supply of cannabis. Eight years.

Robert Ganley, 29, Hargher Street, Burnley. Burglary, cannabis supply, cannabis production, money laundering. Seven years six months.

Faizan Khan, 33, Colne Road, Burnley. Burglary, cannabis supply, cannabis production. Six years nine months.

Connor Shears, 23, Elm Street, Colne. Cannabis supply, cannabis production. Six years.

Kyle Snaith, 28, Windermere Avenue, Burnley. Burglary, cannabis supply, cannabis production. Five years seven months.

David Leach, 30, Castle Hill Street, Shotton, Deeside. Four years 10 months.

Michael Kent, 22, Ravens Grove, Burnley. Burglary, supply of cannabis, cannabis production. Four years nine months.

Michael Brennan, 33, Lancaster Drive, Padiham. Burglary, cannabis supply. Four years seven months.

David Vallender, 51, Alder Bank, Nelson. Cannabis supply. Four years three months.

Jonathan Royal, 30, Cameron Street, Burnley. Cannabis supply, cannabis production, possession of a Taser. Four years three months.

Karlis Pinksis, 28, Forest Street, Burnley. Burglary, cannabis production. Four years one month.

Stephen Forsythe, 45, Newton Street, Burnley. Cannabis production, money laundering. Four years.

Sean Mortimor, 43, Windermere Avenue, Burnley. Cannabis supply, cannabis production. Three years six months.

Orfe Spahaj, 27, NFA. Cannabis production, disqualified driving. Three years four months.

Martin Crawford, 31, NFA. Burglary. Nine months.

Liam Heaton, 28, Lower Clough Street, Barrowford. Burglary, cannabis production. Five years 11 months

Aaron Pierce, 37, Wycoller Avenue, Burnley. Cannabis production. Three years.