UK & World News
Drug Gang 'Sells Cannabis To School Children'
Sky News has gained exclusive access to a drugs gang that supplies primary school-aged children with cannabis.
The boss of the south London firm claims the cannabis trade in Britain is "the biggest it has ever been" despite continued police efforts to disrupt the illegal trade.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the man in his twenties told Sky News he employs more than 30 workers.
He explained how they had at least three factories supplying people in south London and even claims he exports the class B drug to the Netherlands, Germany and Austria.
The boss said: "We have a type of weed over here called 'English cheese'.
"It was created over here - in Amsterdam they don't have that so they try to create that but they just can't because it is what we make and that's what they want."
But it is his claim that dealers are peddling drugs to primary school-aged children in London that will shock many parents.
He said: "You've got doctors, police, solicitors, teachers, bus drivers - everyone does it .... young kids, school kids, even primary school kids."
The gang leader said he personally does not sell to children, but admitted that dealers who work with his organisation do.
He said: "I blame it on the TV, the media, rap, YouTube, like Miley Cyrus on TV it is a common thing - they see it as the cool thing to do.
"Instead of binge-drinking they'll go and have a smoke."
The singer Miley Cyrus recently appeared to light up a joint while on stage at the European MTV awards in Amsterdam.
The drugs boss spoke to Sky News because he believes the cannabis trade in the UK should be legalised.
He said: "It should be legal so we don't have to hide what we are doing.
"If you look at LA and California and how they legalised it for medical reasons and stuff and how the crime rate actually drops.
"They legalised and it's a calmer place out there."
Commander Steve Rodhouse, who heads the Metropolitan Police's gangs and organised crime division, said the cannabis trade in the UK "fuels crime, fuels violence and anti-social behaviour. This is a real problem on our streets".
He also said some reports tend to give the impression that gangs can operate without fear of being detected.
"That is just not the case," he added.
"We do thousands and thousands of search warrants every year in London. We arrest and charge hundreds of people for this crime."
The Home Office said over the last two years police forces have seized more than one million cannabis plants, keeping an estimated £200m worth of the drug off the streets.
The number of offences related to cannabis production rose from 14,982 in 2010/11 to 16,464 in 2011/12, according to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
An ACPO spokeswoman said: "Police forces and the National Crime Agency (NCA) are finding that these criminals are going to ever greater lengths to conceal their illicit activity because they know that across the country we are shutting down these farms on a daily basis."
Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker told Sky News: "In the UK, cannabis is controlled as a class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and is listed in Schedule 1 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.
"Those who grow and supply cannabis face up to 14 years' imprisonment. Production of cannabis for personal use is also illegal.
"We are determined to bring the criminal gangs who trade in cannabis to justice. I am also leading a study of drugs policy in other countries, which will build on the commitment in the drug strategy to look at what we can learn from the approach taken abroad."
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