A court has been told how a pair of letting agents were offered £7,000 not to report a ‘cannabis factory’ rental property in Exeter to the police.
The pair turned down the offer after uncovering the drugs factory, which was run by 25-year-old Albanian tenant Anisi Hamollari (pictured) who had gutted the property after renting it in February 2020.
He was growing 97 cannabis plants within it worth £200,000.
Following complaints from neighbours in June that year about the strong smell coming from the house, the two unnamed letting agents were called to inspect the address but Hamollari put them off twice before they eventually gained access.
It was at this point that he offered a financial incentive for his activities to be kept quiet.
When this failed and the agents called the police, Hamollari made his escape and was caught in the West Midlands during a vehicle stop and, although he supplied fake Italian identity documents, the car contained genuine ones pointing to his real identity, along with a bundle of cash.
Hamollari told police he had been trafficked into the UK by organised criminals and forced to commit the offences, reports DevonLive, and that he thought his job in the UK would be legitimate.
Exeter Crown Court heard that damage to the property totalled £15,000 but £6,438 paid by the Albanian as six months’ rent in advance and £2,839 seized during the vehicle stop may go some way towards recouping these costs.
Hamollari received an 18-month sentence and will be deported when released from prison.
Pic credit: Devon & Cornwall police