Out-of-work builder became cannabis 'gardener' for gang

Bledi Memaci custody picture
-Credit: (Image: Gwent Police)

A man started "gardening" cannabis plants for a gang after struggling to find building work. Police raided a sophisticated Blaenau Gwent drug farm to find up to £58,000 worth of the Class B substance, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

Bledi Memaci, 26, was arrested on May 24 in Adam Street, Abertillery, outside a long-term empty home which had been converted into a cannabis factory. Judge Hywel James told Memaci: "This was not a matter of exploitation but one of seeking financial gain after you had found it difficult to obtain work in construction."

Memaci, of no fixed address, admitted producing cannabis. He had no previous convictions. His barrister Kevin Seal acknowledged an immediate prison term was inevitable. "He knows upon release from his custodial sentence he will be subject to deportation," said Mr Seal. "On deportation he will return to Albania and his family there."

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Judge James said: "Four rooms of the property had been adapted and the grows were at various stages – some flowering, some at the nursery stage. The prosecution put the retail value at £19,000 to £58,000. Photographs show the sophistication of the setup with specialist lighting and equipment. You were located outside the property and absconded but were later arrested."

The judge accepted Memaci had a "lesser role" in the operation as the gang's gardener. He imposed a 12-month jail term of which Memaci will serve half in custody before being released on licence. Judge James ordered the destruction of all items found at the home.