Cannabis farmer caught red-handed tending his crop
Police found more than 300 cannabis plants – and two very surprised Albanian men – when they raided the house
Two Albanians were caught running a “sophisticated” cannabis farm in a Swansea Valley house which had been rented to a group of mysterious Italian men.
When police raided the property they found it had been turned over to production of the Class B drug with more than 300 plants being cultivated across a number of rooms.
Body-worn camera filmed by officers carrying out the raid picks up one saying “Wow” as they uncover the huge cannabis crop – before showing the moment they catch one of the men involved red-handed.
Swansea Crown Court heard police executed a search warrant at a property in Faraday Road in Clydach on September 18 this year.
Danielle Lodwig, prosecuting, said inside the property officers found a large number of plants growing in a downstairs room along with cultivation paraphernalia and it was clearly a commercial operation.
Police went upstairs and in one of the bedrooms came across 27-year-old Bekim Selmani trimming cannabis plants. In his pocket was £250 in cash.
Elsewhere at the address they found 26-year-old Paluca Pashko.
The Albanian pair were arrested and in total police recovered 321 cannabis plants along with growing equipment.
Pashko declined to answer questions but Selmani said he was being paid wages of £250 to tend the crop and expected to make between £5,000 and £6,000 when the all the plants were matured and harvested.
He told officers he had been at the house for around four months – and had been free to come and go from the property – but refused to name those he was working for.
Pashko and Selmani, of Faraday Road, Clydach , had previously pleaded guilty to producing cannabis when they appeared in the dock for sentencing. The court heard both men were in the UK illegally and have no previous convictions.
Selmani entered the country via Belgium and has previously had an application to have his immigration status legalised refused.
Miss Lodwig told the court the Clydach house had been let by the owner to three Italian men but their current whereabouts were not known.
Stuart John, for Selmani, said his client had come to Britain some five years ago to work to help pay for his mother’s cancer treatment in Albania. He said the defendant had worked at car washes before being offered the chance to earn more money at Faraday Road.
Andrew Evans, for Pashko, said his client had only recently come to the UK having been promised work in the building trade but instead found himself working in the cannabis farm. He said he had only been in the Clydach house for a matter of days before police arrived and arrested him.
The advocate added: “His dreams of wealth in this country lie in tatters.”
Judge Geraint Walters said the public were rightly concerned about the “mushrooming” of cannabis farms in local communities and he expressed his surprise that landlords who rented out houses didn’t seem to conduct regular checks on their properties or tenants.
He told the defendants, who listened with the aid of an Albanian interpreter, that it was clear they had been working for a criminal gang which was operating a “sophisticated” cannabis factory and they had known what they were doing was wrong.
He added: “In order to crush this sort of offending we need to get our hands on the people organising it – we do not seem to see a great deal of those in court.”
Giving the defendants a one-third discount for their guilty pleas he sentenced them each to two years in prison.
The judge said he expected the men would be deported upon their release from jail and warned them if they were ever to return to the UK and commit new offences they would receive sentences that would make the ones just handed down “pale into insignificance”.