FOUR men have been jailed after police raided a cannabis factory worth Â£3.6million a year in Southampton.
Agron Elezaj, 27, of Jack Clow Road, London, Amarildo Sulaj, 23, of Stanhope Road, Doncaster, and Rexhino Koci, 26, and Damiano Saraci, 30, both of no fixed address, were sentenced yesterday to Winchester Crown Court.
It comes after a large-scale police operation dismantled a cannabis factory at an industrial unit in Pitt Road, Southampton on January 11 this year.
In the early hours of the morning, dozens of officers surrounded the property with dogs and drones.
Using an angle grinder, they forced their way through a large metal shutter and entered the property.
READ MORE: Southampton man jailed after finding Â£50,000 worth of drugs behind ceiling tiles
A pit bull terrier was used as a guard dog, but the force said he posed no threat.
Koci, Elezaj and Saraci were arrested inside the unit but Sulaj attempted to escape.
Running on the roof, he then fell into a nearby building, injuring his ankles.
He received first aid as police discovered the interior of the building had been “completely transformed”.
Within days, the site was dismantled and 1,048 cannabis plants were seized with an estimated value of Â£900,000.
It is believed that each year the plant was able to bring in Â£3.6 million.
DI Stuart Barton, the lead investigator for the operation, later said, “This plant is one of the largest we have seen in Southampton”.
He went on to say his takedown meant the force had “removed a huge cog in the drug production machine in Hampshire and caused massive disruption to the organized crime gang that ran it”.
“Cannabis production on this scale is so much more than just a ‘little drug’. It brings organized crime, serious violence, guns and the exploitation of children and vulnerable adults to our communities.
âThe dilapidated electrical wiring also presented a huge fire hazard which has now been removed.
âWe can only carry out operations like this with the right information. That’s why it’s so important that you tell us about drug trafficking or production in your neighborhood – even seemingly insignificant information could be the last piece of the puzzle.
Sulaj and Koci both pleaded guilty to playing a significant role.
While Saraci and Elezaj argued for a lesser role in the production of a class B drug.
Sulaj was sentenced to four years and four months in prison and Koci to four years.
Saraci and Elezaj were both sentenced to 20 months in prison.
Ventilation pipes and makeshift electrical cables threaded through a maze of different rooms and lights at the factory while fans were used to grow dozens of rows of plants over two floors.
A living room and a bathroom were also found in a squalid state, which were used by the four men.
The electricity taken off to power the plant was Â£625.40 per day.
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