Couple who ran cannabis empire after their children died are jailed for eight years

September 24, 2013 | by | 0 Comments

A couple who launched a multi-million pound cannabis empire following the deaths of their two young daughters have been jailed for a total of eight years.

Darren and Debra Wright were left devastated when little Chloe, four, died in 2004 and then their elder daughter Ella, nine, passed away in 2007.

They spiralled into depression and devastated Mr Wright, 47, turned to cannabis in a bid to cope.

Debra Wright

Debra Wright

Darren Wright

Darren Wright


They started producing the drug and within a year headed a multi-million pound empire, using Vietnamese illegal immigrants as cheap labour.

Over five years they produced £4 MILLION of cannabis at seven factories across Kent.

But their luck ran out in April this year when police got suspicious and they fled to a Spanish villa bought with their drug money.

Two months later they were extradited back to the UK and on Monday they were jailed at Maidstone Crown Court.

Mrs Wright, 48, was jailed for three years and her husband was sentenced to five years and eight months behind bars.

Debbie and Darren Wright pictured with their daughter Chloe, then 3, in 2003 while the couple were desperately raising money for her medical treatment

Debbie and Darren Wright pictured with their daughter Chloe, then 3, in 2003 while the couple were desperately raising money for her medical treatment

The couple's cannabis farm

The couple’s cannabis farm

Judge Michael Carroll told Mrs Wright he had “tailored” her sentence so she would be back with their remaining 17 year-old Kerry daughter “before not too long.”

The court heard how the couple, from Herne Bay, Kent first lost their four-year-old daughter Chloe to an aggressive form of cancer in July 2004.

They re-mortgaged their home and generous supporters helped raised more than £260,000 to send the youngster 8,000 miles to doctors in Texas.

But the experimental therapy failed to save Chloe from the rare form of cancer called  rhabdomysarcoma.

Three years later the couple were plunged even deeper into grief when their other daughter Ella, nine, died.

They claimed she was infected with staphylococcus bacteria after a trip to the hospital.

A year later Mr Wright’s addiction had engulfed him and he enlisted his wife to launch a series of cannabis factories.

Police linked the factories to a man who was imprisoned for 10 years in 2011.

The Wrights admitted conspiracy to produce cannabis between April 2008 and April this year.

Eleven others have been convicted in relation to the makeshift factories.

Detective Constable Donna Hopper said: “It was a sophisticated set up managed by Vietnamese illegal immigrants who had to live in cramped and dangerous conditions.

“Evidence of the Wright’s involvement came as a result of extensive enquiries following the discovery of a number of individual factories.”

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