AN organised crime gang flooded the Taunton area with skunk cannabis from a base in Wellington, a court has heard.

The leader of a large scale gang used his building business as a front to transport two-thirds of a tonne of the drug into Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.

Fatos Metua recruited employees from his firm and others including a student who was moonlighting as a naked butler to move the drugs to Devon, where they supplied three separate distribution networks.

Metua made more than £1.7 million from the operation, but a two-year investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act only traced assets worth £148,237.64.

He will be forced to sell his house in Wolverhampton and the shares he held in his building company to pay a confiscation order.

Judge Timothy Rose, sitting at Exeter Crown Court, said Metua must repay the money in three months or serve 15 months more in jail.

Another gang member, Kosrat Ali, was ordered to repay £13,082.50 within three months or serve an extra six months.

Metua, 47, of Paget Road, Wolverhampton, was jailed for five years, four months, at Exeter Crown Court in June last year after admitting three counts of conspiracy to supply cannabis.

He was identified as the leader of the crime group by a six-month police surveillance operation codenamed Operation Corinth.

The gang was rounded up as Ali and fellow henchmen were intercepted delivering 13.5 kilos of cannabis for storage at an Indian restaurant in Topsham.

The leaders of distribution networks in Wellington, Yeoford and Exeter sold the cannabis in towns from East Cornwall to Taunton.

Metua’s couriers, who included naked butler Mathin Durrani, made up to four trips a week to Devon with the skunk, which was being grown in the Midlands by an Albanian gang. He was jailed for four years.

Police recovered thousands of pounds in cash as well as silver and gold during a series of raids, in which they also seized 37 kilos of skunk hidden in Sports Direct bags.

At last year's hearing, Roland Toska, 37, of Park Road, Wolverhampton, and Kosrat Ali, 25, of Clifford Street, Wolverhampton, also admitted three counts of conspiracy. They were jailed for three years eight months and four years three months respectively.

Aiden Northern, 29, of East Nynehead, Wellington, Steven Walters, 37, of Fernworthy Park, Crediton, Gulam Choudhury, 44, of Bonhay Road, Exeter, and Neil Mounce, 37, of Avalon Close, Exeter, all admitted one count of conspiracy. They were each jailed for two years eight months, apart from Mounce who received a two-year suspended sentence.

Hannah Miah, 41, of High Street, Topsham, admitted being concerned in the supply of drugs and was ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work.

Walters' father Roy, 73, of The Oaks, Yeoford, admitted money laundering and was jailed for four months suspended for a year.

Durrani, 22, of Westley Court, West Bromwich, was convicted of conspiracy.