THREE men have been jailed for running a massive three-floor cannabis farm in an abandoned nightclub in Coventry.
National Crime Agency officers, supported by colleagues from West Midlands Police, raided the property on Trinity Street on October 15 last year, smashing their way through reinforced doors.
Once inside they found around 1,500 cannabis plants spread across the building’s three floors which NCA experts valued at £1million.
As well as the plants officers recovered sophisticated planting, growing and irrigation equipment, valued at around £150,000.
The electricity supply at the property had been bypassed, with the equipment inside directly and illegally connected to the commercial supply from the street outside.
Three men – Albanian nationals Andi Cani, 24, and Adrian Lleshaj, 29, and Vietnamese national Cao Van Vu, 31 – were arrested.
Cani and Lleshaj attempted to hide on the roof of the building as officers entered, but were captured with the assistance of West Midlands Police drone unit.
In interviews with NCA investigators, all three men admitted having paid people smugglers to assist them in entering the UK illegally.
The trio pleaded guilty to producing a controlled drug and today a judge at Warwick Crown Court sentenced Vu to 40 months in prison, Lleshaj to 35 months, and Cani to 28 months.
All three will face deportation after serving their jail terms.
NCA Branch Commander Mick Pope said: “These men were involved in producing cannabis on an industrial scale.
“It is certainly the largest and most sophisticated cannabis factory ever found by the NCA.
“They were responsible for maintaining and storing drugs and equipment worth over £1million, which shows the wider criminal network behind this operation clearly trusted them.
“The take-down of this facility will have had a huge impact on the wider organised crime group, depriving them of potentially millions of pounds in profit, which would have been used to fund further criminality and exploitation.”
The NCA’s investigation is continuing.