Pair caught growing cannabis worth almost £110,000 in Telford jailed

Two men who were arrested in a cannabis raid in Telford have been jailed for a total of 19 months.

Shrewsbury Crown Court heard how every room of the house had cannabis plants in them
Shrewsbury Crown Court heard how every room of the house had cannabis plants in them

But the pair may soon be released due to the time already spent on remand since their arrest last year following the discovery an seizure of plants worth an estimated street value of £109,000 at an house, in Haybridge Avenue, Hadley.

Cannabis gardener Arvan Ivani, 23, claimed he was forced to take part in the activity to repay debts of £25,000 to people traffickers who helped him to get into the country.

Mr David Iles, prosecuting barrister, said: "Both defendants are Albanian nationals. On a previous occasion both pleaded guilty to production of cannabis on a basis of plea. On October 5 Shpresim Sanaj was seen by police officers driving a white van to a parking space opposite the property.

"He was holding a brown cardboard box. the police entered the address armed with a warrant and found both defendants in the kitchen. The premises was searched and every room had cannabis plants inside. When he was interviewed by the police Sinaj made no comment.

"Avani said he was in charge of watering the 109 plants found. His basis of plea says that he entered the country illegally with a assistance of third parties. He was told that he owed them £25,000 and that he had to work for them to repay it.

"He worked as a gardener for two to three days per weeks. He was not paid and had no expectation of making any money other than reducing his debts.

"Sanaj said in his basis of plea that he came to this country in 2018. He says he was desperate for money due to the Covid situation. He was asked to deliver a box of tools to the property. He was given the van to transport it." Mr Iles said both men, of London, were said to have played a lesser role in the operation.

Miss Juliet Donovan, mitigating for Sinaj, 27, told Shrewsbury Crown Court that he had applied for asylum due to his father being involved in a murder resulting in the defendant now living in fear of reprisals.

Judge Peter Barrie jailed Avani for 10 months. Sinaj was jailed for nine months and must serve half before being released on licence. He also ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the drugs and equipment.

"It is likely that you have served the custodial period," Judge Barrie told Avani.

He added that the Home Office was responsible for decisions over deportation.

At the time of their arrest West Mercia Police's Telford Proactive CID Detective Inspector Barry Spencer said: “This warrant was part of our commitment to tackle serious and organised crime and help make our communities even safer.

“Cultivating cannabis farms such as this does not just bring disruption to local residents but it brings associated harm.

"We suspect those involved are part of a wider organised crime group and will continue to take further enforcement action and disrupt the activity of all of those involved.”

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