“Desperate” man who came to the UK behind a truck began growing cannabis to pay off debts to people smugglers
A “desperate” Albanian national started working on a cannabis farm to pay off a £ 20,000 debt to people smugglers, a court heard.
Arman Selamaj arrived in the UK on a truck earlier this year.
Without a job or an apartment, the 24-year-old was looking for work with his compatriots in a café in Manchester, Minshull Street Crown Court heard.
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He was offered a job and a home to grow a crop on a cannabis farm in a house on Parkville Road in Prestwich.
But on June 3 of that year, police raided the property and found that most of the house was reserved for growing “skunk” cannabis.
About 115 plants that could produce a yield of up to 13 kilos of the class B drug were confiscated.
Prosecutor Zoe Dawson said delays in the system meant the street value of the crop was not assessed.
But she said five rooms in the house were “dedicated” to growing cannabis with “sophisticated equipment.”
Selamaj, who moved into the house a month before he was arrested, rarely left and was instructed not to make too much noise or draw attention to the property, Ms. Dawson said.
At the time of his arrest, Selamaj had not yet been paid but was expecting a profit sharing after the harvest was sold.
Sophie Kenny defended herself, saying that Selamaj started growing cannabis out of “desperation”.
She added: “He arrived in the UK on a truck in January or February. He came to this country in search of a better life but he owed significant amounts of money to those who made it possible for him to travel to this country.”
Selamaj was jailed for 20 months after pleading guilty to cannabis production.
Judge Paul Lawton said Selamaj would likely be deported after serving his sentence.
He said: “You came as an illegal immigrant from Albania. You came to Manchester through a process of meeting others and looking for a job and made a conscious decision to participate in a cannabis farm on Parkville Road in Prestwich.
“The police got you there on the morning of the 3rd.
“You say you hired yourself to pay off a debt. It doesn’t matter to me. Debt or not, you made a conscious choice to get involved in this activity.
“But you’re probably a low-level clerk with an organized crime company.
“You will likely be deported to Albania, but that is a matter for the immigration service, not this court.”
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