‘Hot factory roof’ near Leeds Canal led police to £400,000 professional cannabis operation

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A huge £400,000 cannabis farm was discovered during a police foot chase across an old factory building near Leeds Canal, when officers noticed the roof was “very hot”.

Three officers had spotted men fleeing the area and try to hide in undergrowth when they were on patrol on the towpath at Canal Lane in Armley on February 4, 2022. Leeds Crown Court heard that the officers arrested one man and chase the others, but became suspicious of the heat coming from the industrial unit, along with the strong smell of cannabis.

Once inside, they found a living quarter with mattresses and a makeshift kitchen and bathroom. Prosecutor Eleanor Durdy said they found a room full of plant feed and pots with the walls wrapped in plastic and insulation.

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Forcing open a locked internal door, they came across 354 mature plants and around 50 saplings under a “professional set up”, including expensive fans to mimic natural wind conditions to help produce a better yield. Police experts estimated the crop could produce cannabis worth up to £330,000, with a follow-up grow of more than £48,000.

The "professional" cannabis factory was found on Canal Lane in Armley.The "professional" cannabis factory was found on Canal Lane in Armley.
The "professional" cannabis factory was found on Canal Lane in Armley.

Kullolli Jorvis was one of two men arrested. The 22-year-old denied any involvement and said he had been sleeping rough in a nearby hedge, having only arrived in Leeds a few weeks prior. Following forensic analysis, his finger prints were found in the unit and his DNA found on a cigarette butt in the growing room.

He made no comments during a second interview, but later pleaded guilty to production of cannabis. He has no previous convictions.

Mitigating, Rachel Webster said Jorvis had come over to the UK illegally from Albania around a month before his arrest and owed traffickers £32,000 for his transportation. She said: “He was taken to the premises in Armley to water those plants and repay this debt. He was not paid anything because of this debt.

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“He was living on a squashed and squalid mattress with a kitchen and shower propped up on breeze blocks. He regrets his actions. He wants to start a life over here and get some work.”

She said he co-accused had been sentenced to around eight months in jail last year. Judge Ray Singh handed Jorvis eight months’ jail also.