Three men jailed for working in 'massive' £1.25m cannabis factory in Kirkby
A ‘massive’ £1.25m cannabis factory in Kirkby was discovered because of the ‘strong and obvious’ odour it gave off, Nottingham Crown Court was told.
Ledion Subashi, Aurel Koltraka and Kreshnik Batusha were found with small amounts of cash in the property on Chapel Street, on January 14, said prosecutor Andrew Peet.
He described it as an ‘obviously sophisticated cannabis grow’, which was protected by a CCTV system connected to a mobile phone.
Officers found 1,382 plants, of which 327 were cropped and drying, across 13 rooms.
The projected yield was estimated between 41.5 kgs and 124 kgs, valued at between £400,000 and £1.25 million.
All three defendants are Albanian nationals and are in the UK illegally, Mr Peet said.
Caroline Harris said Subashi had only been in the property for a few days after travelling into the UK from Belgium by lorry.
"He is a proud man who has worked hard since he was 15 years old," she said. "However at home he was not earning enough to suport his parents, brother and grandmother.
"He wished to provide for his family and was led to believe he could more easily do that in the UK. It was never his intention to come here and grow cannabis."
Marie Spenwyn said Batusha was only 21 at the time and of previous good character, while Koltraka grew up in poverty in Albania and ‘came here seeking a better life, albeit illegally’.
She said both defendants had found Covid-hit prison conditions ‘very difficult’.
Ledion Subashi, 27, Aurel Koltraka, 30, and Kreshnik Batusha, 22, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis.
Judge Stuart Rafferty QC told them, via an Albanian interpreter: "As doubtless you know, by rumour if not experience, the production of cannabis in this country has recently become controlled by Eastern Europeans – many of whom come from your own country.
"The problems caused by them in this country is becoming epidemic and they are able to continue that operation because of the willingness of people like you to close your eyes to reality and to come to this country on the promise of work with the burden of having to pay sums of money which none of you could ever reasonably be expected to repay.
"This was a cannabis factory generating vast sums of profit for those in charge and doing absolutely nothing to enable you to repay the ever-increasing debt.
"You know and I know that as soon as you get back to Albania – whenever that may be – the people to whom you owe that money will be bringing you back into this country to start all of this again. All because of your own stupidity.
"I accept that you were probably living in poverty. I accept everyone is entitled to live a better life for them and their family. But seeking to do that in another country when you are entering it illegally could never give rise to that possibility. And if you didn't know that then, you know it now.
"I accept you were involved in this at the lowest possible role. If you came to help your families you have succeeded only in making their misery worse."
He jailed them for 14 months each. They will serve half the sentence before they are deported.