£ 374,000 cannabis factory raided in Pontypool town center
A homeless man has been recruited by a criminal gang to run a cannabis factory with the potential to produce £ 374,000 of Class B drugs.
Farman Brahim, 27, tried unsuccessfully to evade police by rappelling down the building in downtown Pontypool when the law called him.
Nuhu Gobir, prosecuting, said officers discovered 581 cannabis plants inside the Commercial Street property last November.
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He told Newport Crown Court: “They found a full-scale cannabis plant in four rooms.
“A fifth room served as a bedroom / living room with three beds, a refrigerator, an oven, clothes and food.
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“Western Power then went there and discovered that the electricity had been bypassed illegally.
“Gwent Police drug expert Detective Constable Sean Meyrick estimated the potential yield of all plants to be between 15.86 kg and 47.6 kg.
“The potential market value of the drugs would have been between £ 102,060 and £ 374,220.
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“He said it was a professional setup that could have gotten great results.”
Brahim, of Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, admitted to dishonestly producing cannabis and using electricity on 25 November 2020.
He was a man of good character with no convictions recorded against him.
Stuart John, representing Brahim, requested that his client be credited with his guilty pleas.
His lawyer added: “The accused is an asylum seeker who arrived in this country from Iraq in 2016.
“He first settled with a distant family before moving to the Newport area where he found himself homeless and with no money at all.
“The accused succumbed to temptation when offered the opportunity to earn money.
“He was desperate. ”
The court heard that Brahim had already served the equivalent of a 12-month prison sentence after spending time in pre-trial detention and under qualified electronic tagging.
The judge, Recorder David Elias QC, told the defendant: “This was a relatively large and sophisticated cultivation operation.
“It was a commercial operation and you played a limited role under management.
“It is not clear if you received any financial reward.”
Brahim was jailed for nine months, suspended for 18 months.
He was ordered to perform a 10-day rehabilitation activity and pay a victim surcharge of £ 156.
The judge ordered the confiscation and destruction of the cannabis plants.