A FATHER of nine children responsible for one of Australia's largest marijuana crops would wear a "hippie disguise" to offload the drug in Nimbin.
Michael Bennett Gardner Snr would load about a dozen drums filled with one-pound marijuana packages in his utility and cover them before driving from Queensland to the Northern Rivers village.
Gardner told his son he took 16 drums of marijuana to Nimbin in the first season and bragged to his wife he had made $500,000 from that crop which went back into infrastructure for "the big bumper crop".
He would usually take marijuana to Nimbin to sell but sometimes he took the drug there to be "manicured" before the curing process.
Sometimes he would take his wife and her three children on trips to Nimbin, making the children hide large amounts of money in their shoes to avoid police detection while there.
Gardner, 58, was jailed for 13 years on Wednesday after pleading guilty in Brisbane Supreme Court to producing and trafficking drugs for more than four years.
He was the central figure in a "sophisticated and elaborate commercial venture" at Inglewood, in the southern Darling Downs.
Gardner recruited his young stepchildren, aged 11 to 14, to plant seedlings and tend thousands of plants when they should have been at school.
Most of the crop had already been harvested when police raided the property in 2008 but they still found 22,000 plants and 3.59 tonnes of dried marijuana worth about $70 million on the black market.
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