From empty houses and attics to disused factories – those who want to make a big profit from growing cannabis on a large scale use all kinds of properties to run their farms.
The perpetrators of the commercial cultivation of the Class B drug are usually organized criminal gangs, often with links to international human trafficking.
The money from the trade is often used to pay for other forms of criminal activity.
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But the people who often appear before the courts when these farms are found are not the bosses – but rather the gardeners, growers and growers.
Most often, these are people who are new to the country who have either traveled illegally or been asylum seekers.
They are easily manipulated and vulnerable and are desperate to make money fast, but usually the first to fall when the police come and knock.
Here, the Manchester Evening News have looked back at the largest cannabis farms found in Greater Manchester and the people were taken to court for their part in the deal.
The immigrant who was told he would be killed if he did not work on the cannabis farm in Longsight
Oretsis Cobo, 29, had lived in the yard, which had been converted into a townhouse, for about six weeks before police discovered it.
He later told officers he had been taken to the house on Eston Street in a van after receiving a ‘threat letter’.
He was asked to water and feed the cannabis plants, act as a gardener, and he was warned if he failed to comply, ‘he would be killed’, the Manchester Crown Court heard.
Police were initially called to the house after reports of the disorder. They found Cobo lying on the floor and had a ‘medical episode’ on 19 February.
Officers found more than 300 plants that could have yielded between 13 and 14 kilos of hashish.
There were growing in several rooms and the loft.
After being arrested, Albanian national Cobo told police he had not set up the farm and was only involved in feeding and watering the plants.
He said he had not been paid for his work, except to be brought food and money for a phone charge and to be allowed to live there without rent.
Cobo said he had been threatened by someone who had asked him to stay in the house, otherwise he would be killed. He said he was too scared to call the police.
He was jailed for 15 months in September after admitting to producing cannabis. His defense attorney said Cobo is awaiting deportation after serving his sentence.
That desperate man who was ‘manipulated’ into growing a cannabis farm
Alfred Pirra owed smugglers £ 25,000 to get him into Britain – so he grew cannabis in an attempt to stop his smugglers who threatened his family.
He had been working on a car wash since he arrived in the country to pay his debts, but had to stop due to. Covid pandemic.
With no income to pay the traffickers, the 26-year-old’s family began receiving threats of money and they were forced to raise £ 5,000 to stop the aggression.
Pirra was then ‘manipulated’ to care for cannabis plants on a Mount Pleasant property, Darcy Lever, Bolton, which police struck at 8:15 a.m. on Feb. 27 .
He was detained by police at the property, where 23 cannabis plants were found in the front bedroom and 22 cannabis plants in the back bedroom.
Officers also found fans and heat lamps used in the production process in the two bedrooms, along with a water tank and a hose in the bathroom and foil in the attic – suggesting that cannabis had previously been grown there.
The approximate street value of the drugs was £ 25,000.
Pirra of Bolton Road, Westhoughton, pleaded guilty to manufacturing a Class B drug and was sentenced to six months in prison in August.
But when he entered the UK illegally, Pirra will now be referred to the Home Office, where his immigration status will be considered.
Pirra will be subject to a period of supervision by the Interior Ministry and will be required to comply with the conditions if released.
‘million pounds’ factory found in Cheetham Hill
Police found more than 100 kilos of hashish when they raided a former mill in Cheetham Hill.
A pistol and ammunition were also found.
Over a year, the ‘highly organized’ establishment could produce cannabis worth a million pounds, the Manchester Crown Court heard.
Four Lithuanian men found at the mill at Park Place have all been jailed.
The men said they came to the UK in search of legal work.
One said they were taken to the cannabis farm from the airport.
A revolver and ammunition were found in a sofa in the mill, though the gun could only fire rubber bullets and empty cartridges.
The recovered ammunition included ‘traumatic bullet cartridges’ and empty cartridges.
The cannabis farm included candles, a large industrial fan and ventilation.
Police believed a large crop had recently been harvested, each crop could be worth between £ 247,000 and £ 330,000.
Ramunas Lesauskas, 48, and Mindaugas Salys, 30, were jailed for two years, while Vincas Margevicius, 38, and Arturas Salkauskas, 54, were sentenced to 14 months in prison.
Lesauskas and Salys both pleaded guilty to manufacturing cannabis, possession of a prohibited weapon and possession of ammunition without a firearms certificate.
Salkauskas and Margevicius pleaded guilty to making cannabis.
The asylum seeker offered £ 2,000 a month to look after a huge cannabis farm in Didsbury
Ledjo Basha, 25, was a ‘gardener’ on the farm, which was installed in a semi-detached house on Palatine Road, Didsbury.
Police found cannabis with a potential value of £ 100,000 – and a ‘sophisticated’ setup.
There were 275 cannabis plants, found in five different places in the building.
Officers also spotted 77 lights, at least ten fans and 76 transformers, prosecutor Saul Brody told Manchester Crown Court.
The electricity had also been bypassed.
Police forced into the property on May 28 and arrested Basha on suspicion of producing cannabis.
In a police interview, Basha said he had been in the house for less than two months.
Basha had been offered £ 2,000 a month for the role but never received any money, he said.
Sir. Brody said the “significant” amounts of cannabis were grown for “commercial” use.
Basha, from Palatine Road, pleaded guilty to producing a Class B drug and was jailed for seven months.
The former restaurant manager in charge of trafficking in illegal immigrants to work on cannabis farms
A restaurant manager played a key role in a ‘barbaric’ failed plan to transport illegal immigrants to the UK to work in cannabis farms.
Tuan Do, 55, was also involved in the operation of cannabis farms, which produced tens of thousands of pounds of the drug.
He has now been imprisoned for 11 years.
Do, from Modbury Walk, Cheetham Hill, was found guilty after the trial of conspiracy to aid in illegal immigration, conspiracy to produce a Class B drug and conspiracy to supply a Class B drug.
He pleaded guilty to another charge of conspiracy to manufacture a Class B substance.
To read the full shocking story, click here .
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