It’s always fascinating to see life imitate art, especially when that art happens to be one of Netflix’s most iconic series. So this one’s for all you Breaking Bad fans out there.
Wales has got its very own Walter White after a father diagnosed with leukaemia created a small drug empire, transforming himself from a respectable IT specialist into a cannabis king.
Edward McCann, 63, was diagnosed with the blood cancer in 2010 and allegedly began using weed to “alleviate” some of the side effects of his chemotherapy.
However, he soon began growing and selling the plant alongside his son Daniel, 38, and what started as a small drug-dealing business in Hampshire swiftly evolved into an industrial-scale enterprise. The McCanns bought a remote farmhouse in Carmarthenshire, southwest Wales, to grow their illegal crops, successfully plying their trade for five years.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Breaking Bad plot, the aforementioned protagonist uses his skills as a chemist to start “cooking” crystal meth. His initial aim is to make money for his family following a terminal cancer diagnosis, but he gradually succumbs to greed and corruption as he makes a name for himself as a ruthless drug lord.
Fortunately, this story isn’t quite so dramatic (or bloody), but McCann still managed to make an estimated £4.3 million for himself and his loved ones before he was tried and convicted by police.
At his sentencing hearing at Swansea crown court back in December, judge Geraint Walters noted that whilst McCann may have begun his journey into the criminal underworld by innocently using cannabis to ease his cancer symptoms: “The reality is you moved on from it.”
Walters (not Walter) added: “It would be an affront to common sense to suggest that an operation on this scale had anything to do with producing medicinal cannabis.”
In a break from Breaking Bad, where White keeps his new trade secret from his nearest and dearest, McCann’s wife Linda and son Daniel were both in on the act, and were punished accordingly.
Linda was jailed for six years and seven months in August, alongside two hired helpers, for her role in the business, and Daniel was sentenced alongside his dad last month: he was given eight years and six months – more than his father, who received seven years and seven months.
The court heard that the McCanns had used some of the drug money to fund their daughter Samatha’s university life, according to The Times.
Samantha, now 27, was initially charged as part of the ring — but the case against her was later dropped.
The McCanns and their two associates were convicted for their part in the industrial-scale opperationDyfed-Powys Police
The game was up for the McCanns following a raid on their Carmarthenshire factory back in October 2020.
Officers forced their way into the two-storey farmhouse, where they were met with row upon row of cannabis plants — which had a value of up to £460,000 — as well as around 80kg of “cannabis product”, worth up to £1.5 million. This included Christmas-themed cannabis-infused chocolate and bottles of Cannabis oil.
Officers also found £10,000 cash divided into individual £1,000 bundles as well as a shoebox containing money.
It’s not quite as jaw-dropping as that Breaking Bad carwash money pile scene, but still, it must have been quite a sight to behold.
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