DETECTIVES have revealed how a major drug gang operated under the cover of two North Yorkshire businesses as two more gangsters were jailed.

Six of the gang headed by convicted cocaine smuggler Alan Barker are now behind bars serving a total of 34 years and seven more have been given suspended prison sentences or a community order.

Barker, 56, used his business Selby Hydroponics near Carlton as a headquarters for the production and supply of cannabis on an industrial scale and a second business, Selby Plant Hire, to store anti-surveillance equipment and ammunition. He had two illegal sawn-off shotguns.

As The Press reported in May, Barker was jailed for nine years and nine months, his brother Gary, 53, was jailed for six years and three months and two of his "trusted lieutenants" were also jailed.

They have now been joined behind bars by Michael Demes, 55, of Willow Crescent, Thorne, and Kastriot Molla, 44, of First Avenue, Halifax, both jailed for three years and six months after being convicted of trial of conspiracy to supply cannabis.

READ MORE: All the names of the 13, their crimes and their sentences.  

Detective Sergeant Thomas Hoban of North Yorkshire Police’s Organised Crime Unit,who won a judge's commendation for his work in putting the gang behind bars, said: “I am pleased with the sentences handed down today.

"This organised crime group thought they could operate under the radar but have now collectively been put behind bars for 34 years.

"Little did they know we were onto them, gathering a catalogue of evidence against them, which led to their guilty verdicts or guilty pleas.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of officers across two forces throughout this lengthy and complex investigation, a large amount of drugs have been taken off the streets.

York Press: Bags of cannabis seized during Operation Executive

“This outcome reflects the tireless efforts of both North Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Police in combating drug-related crimes and sends a clear message that such activities will not be tolerated. We remain committed to protecting our communities and ensuring justice is served.

“We will always act on any information about drug activity provided to us and would urge anyone who believes this activity is happening near to them to please contact North Yorkshire Police.”

The first clue police got was after police arrested a man on June 21, 2017, with items detectives believed to be used in cannabis production – when Alan Barker contacted them to say he owned the items.

York Press: Selby HydroponicsSelby Hydroponics (Image: North Yorkshire Police)

Detectives raided his home address and Selby Hydroponics and found the two shotguns, a marijuana grower’s book, six mobile phones, an £1,155 invoice listing items used for growing cannabis, and a small amount of cannabis and amphetamine.

Alan Barker tried to prevent them, without success, from finding evidence on one of the phones of how he had been producing cannabis from May 2017 plus details of other gang members.

Police launched Operation Executive during which they carried out undercover surveillance of gang members going between cannabis farms and Selby Hydroponics and carried out other investigations, including identifying more gang members.

York Press: The cannabis farm at a Dewsbury house rented by Gary BarkerThe cannabis farm at a Dewsbury house rented by Gary Barker (Image: North Yorkshire Police)

They located five cannabis farms, three in Birstall, one in Halifax and one in Dewsbury, some of which used sophisticated hydroponic and water systems.

A raid on Barker’s new business Selby Plant Hire found 20 shotgun blanks, digital scales and a digital radio frequency detector and GSM 3G detective capable of detecting signals emitted by tracking devices.