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Gloucestershire Business News

Albanian man jailed after £84,000 cannabis factory raid

An Albanian illegal immigrant who grew cannabis with a potential value of £84,000 in a 'fairly ordinary semi detached house' in the heart of Cheltenham was jailed for six months yesterday (June 4).

Sabah Kalej, 26, tried to flee from the back door of the house in Severn rd when it was raided by police on 27th March this year but ran into the arms of a waiting officer who arrested him, Gloucester crown court was told.

Kalej, who claimed he had been forced to look after the cannabis plants in the house by the people who brought him illegally to the UK, admitted production of the drug.

He was told by Judge Ian Lawrie QC that when he has completed his six months jail term it will be up to the Home Office to decide whether he is deported.

Sabah Kalej

Prosecutor Janine Wood said police found that five rooms of the house including the lounge and loft were being used to grow 100 plants with a potential yield of 28 kilos of the drug. There was a hydroponic growing system with artificial lighting in place.

The commercial value would be between £28,000 and £84,000, she said.

Also found was wrapped cannabis weighing 1.9kilos with a street value of £19,000.

Mrs Wood said a phone taken from the defendant and others found in the house were analysed by police and messages from him showed that he was doing more than just watering the plants, which was what he claimed was his only role.

"He said he was in essence being forced to work there," she added.

Judge Lawrie said "I took the view that his role was a little more comprehensive than just watering. He was a custodian, taking care of the growth of the plants."

Sarah Jenkins, defending, said the valuation figures given by the police were a surprise to Kalej and he certainly did not stand to make that sort of money from his role.

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