Huge cannabis factory worth nearly half a million pounds found in Cardiff suburb

Markelian Koxhaj, 27, was found to be working at a cannabis factory in Cardiff where there were more than 600 plants worth almost half a million pounds.
-Credit: (Image: South Wales Police)


A gardener was found to be working at a cannabis factory in Cardiff with more than 600 plants worth nearly half a million pounds. It is the second time the defendant has been involved in producing cannabis.

Markelian Koxhaj, 27, was discovered working at the cannabis factory in Sandringham Road, Roath, on March 14 after police could smell cannabis coming from the property. Officers forced entry to the property from the rear garden and found the defendant standing on the other side of the door.

A sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court on Tuesday heard Koxhaj told police he was a gardener and had only been at the house for a week. Cannabis was being grown in seven rooms, with 674 plants found in total in what was described by prosecutor Amelia Pike as a "professional set up". Electricity was also being abstracted illegally.

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The total yield of the plants was valued at the higher level between £148,282 and £444,840. Koxhaj was arrested and interviewed but answered "no comment". He did claim his role was to water the plants and owed a debt of £30,000 to a gang who helped to transport him from his home in Albania to the UK in the back of a lorry.

Koxhaj, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to cannabis production and abstracting electricity without authority. The court heard he had one previous conviction for cannabis production from 2023, for which he received 227 days imprisonment.

A probation report revealed the defendant came to the UK in 2020 and his immigration status was illegal. He was released from prison in February, 2023, but recalled the same day, before being released on April 21, 2023. He was recalled after failing to engage with his licence but remained at large until his arrest in March this year. He claimed he had been approached by the same gang who told him he needed to work to repay his £30,000 debt, and he felt pressured to act as a gardener.

The court heard the decision was made not to deport Koxhaj following the end of his prison sentence for the first cannabis production offence due to fears for his welfare, but as a result of his second conviction he is likely to be deported upon his release from prison. In mitigation, Hannah Friendman said her client had grown up in rural Albania and had come to the UK for a "better life" but now wished to return home to work legally and pay off his debt.

Sentencing, Judge Paul Hobson said there was "no realistic alternative to term of immediate imprisonment". He sentenced the defendant to a total of 20 months imprisonment.

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