A gang involved in growing cannabis in Bolton have been ordered to hand over more than £1.2M between them.

Kyle Darbyshire was jailed for 12 years in 2022 for his part in a conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and to produce and cultivate cannabis in farms in both Bolton and Swinton.

Now he and three other men have been ordered to pay a combined total of more than £1.2M or face extra time in prison.

Detective Inspector Rebecca McGuigan, of GMP’s Salford district, said: “This was a complex investigation that saw a significant drugs supply chain taken off the streets of Salford, undoubtedly making our local community safer.

“But for us, we want to go further than a conviction to ensure that any money gained as a result of their criminal activities is given back.

Mark Burgess, Mark Cox and Geoffrey WhiteMark Burgess, Mark Cox and Geoffrey White (Image: GMP)

“It is another important tool in achieving justice to ensure that they cannot continue to live lavishly with their ill-gotten gains.

“Now, a significant amount of money made from illegal activity will need to be repaid, and this money will be recovered by our force.”

Darbyshire, of Blantyre Avenue, Walkden, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, and the production and cultivation of cannabis in July 2022.

He has now been ordered to pay a total of £1,234,609.67 at a hearing on Friday June 28 this year or face an extra four years in prison.

The amount is the benefit officers claim Darbyshire and his associates made from their six-year drug operation before they were finally arrested in connection with a cannabis farm in Bolton.

During their investigation, Greater Manchester police say they found that the gang were using encrypted devices to organise the buying of drugs.

They were also involved in producing cannabis at farms in Swinton and Bolton, while financial found that the value of the gang’s potential returns from the drugs was nearly £400,000.

Three other men, Mark Burgess, 46 of Ellenbrook Road, Worsley, Mark Cox, 39 and Geoffrey White, 46, were all given suspended sentences in 2022 for their parts in the same conspiracy.

Burgess, of Ellenbrook Road, Worsley, received a 24-month suspended sentence, an 18-month supervision order, 180 hours of unpaid work and five days of rehabilitation activities.

Cox, of Runnymeade, Swinton, received a 10-month suspended sentence, a 12-month supervision order and 60 hours of unpaid work.

And White, of Thorpe Avenue, Swinton, received a 10-month suspended sentence, a 12-month supervision order, 80 hours of unpaid work and 10 days of rehabilitation activities. 

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Cox was then ordered to pay £13,000 at a confiscation hearing on 29 February, this year, while White was ordered to pay £28,721.

DI McGuigan said: “Drugs can have a devastating impact on communities so I would urge anyone who has any information about the supply of drugs to get in touch with police as open conversations with local residents is so helpful in bringing people who blight communities to justice.”

Anyone with any information or concerns about drug crime in their areas can call police on 101 or 999 in the event of an emergency.

Alternatively, witnesses can call independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111.