Traffickers used webcams to keep 'gardener' at Leeds house cannabis farm

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Traffickers used webcams to prevent an immigrant from leaving a cannabis farm at a Leeds house.

The gang would communicate over the internet with Albanian national Flamur Dedja after forcing him to tend to the crop on Ashton Terrace in Harehills. He came over to the UK on the back of a truck earlier this year at cost £10,000, money he then owed to the traffickers, Leeds Crown Court was told.

He was put to work illegally as a painter and decorator in Leicester, but was told he was not paying his debt back quick enough and forced to become a “gardener” at the drug farm in Leeds, feeding the plants.

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Prosecutor Jemima Stephenson said following a tip-off, police raided the property on April 5, forcing entry and finding Dedja inside. They found 71 plants across three rooms with a total value estimated up to £39,000.

Dedja was ordered to work at the cannabis factory on at the home on Ashton Terrace.Dedja was ordered to work at the cannabis factory on at the home on Ashton Terrace.
Dedja was ordered to work at the cannabis factory on at the home on Ashton Terrace.

Officers found basic food in the house and a camera in the front window. During his police interview, 31-year-old Dedja said he was permitted to leave the property every two weeks to buy food and was given £100 every three months.

He said the gang took away his passport, would speak to him over webcams in the property and threaten to harm his family in Albania if he did not co-operate. He admitted a charge of producing cannabis and placed on remand.

Mitigating, Satpal Roth-Sharma argued he was not working in a “significant role” with a “degree of pressure” placed on him. Dedja said he just wanted to go back to Albania to be with his wife and four-year-old son.

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She said: “It’s been a huge shock and a stress for him being in custody in a foreign country. His greatest concern is his family. He has not seen his family since last year and is very worried about them, and they of course are very worried about him.”

Judge Andrew Stubbs KC told him: “You chose to come here illegally and live here illegally which led to you being put in a charge of the cannabis farm in Leeds.”

He gave him a 12-month jail sentence, and said he expects him to be deported once released.