'Fingers in lots of pies'
DETECTIVE Chief Inspector Paul Fotheringham led the investigation and praised the professionalism of neighbourhood and undercover officers who discovered the links between the stolen metal and drug production.
DCI Fotheringham said: "We are very pleased with the sentences and the fact that the judge recognised the relationship between stolen metal and drug.
"It is by no means the end for Marcus Vella, however. He faces a lengthy prison sentence and Kent Police will pursue the seizure of his assets to ensure that he does not profit from the crime in which he has been involved.
"Vella is not some distant Mr Big. He and his conspirators had their fingers in lots of pies and were intent on bringing misery to hundreds of people in Kent.
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"This is not only through the drugs they were planning to supply but to those whose homes would have been burgled by those desperate to fuel their addiction."
On February 8 last year, officers raided Vella's scrapyard, where they found stripped cable and seized cash and record books.
Vella's employee Andrew Rowland, 25, of Marlborough Road, Margate, was given a suspended sentence and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work for handling stolen scrap metal.