Two men from St Albans have been jailed for their involvement in running a cannabis factory network.
Blerin Bajcinca, 32, of Abbots Park, St Albans, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce cannabis, and was found guilty of possession of a prohibited weapon and ammunition.
He was also convicted of possession of false ID documents with intent to deceive. He was sentenced to a total of nine years and 10 months in prison.
Sertzio Tsekrezi, 25, also of Abbots Park, was jailed for three years and four months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to produce cannabis.
The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) launched an investigation into the organised crime group after ringleader Lulzim Koka, 29, of Dumfries Street, Luton, was arrested in 2019 trying to leave the country in possession of class A drugs.
In early 2020, two cannabis factories in Smethwick, West Midlands, and one in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire, were identified and dismantled as part of the investigation.
It’s estimated that had the three cannabis factories not been closed, they had the potential to have grown up to £500,000 worth of cannabis a year.
ERSOU arrested six members of the group and on December 2, five of them were sentenced to a total of more than 32 years in prison at Wolverhampton Crown Court.
Eddison Koceku, 29, of Castle Street, Smethwick, was jailed for two years and three months after being found guilty of conspiracy to produce cannabis
Edmir Tafa, 25, of Halfords Lane, Smethwick, was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to produce cannabis
Elvis Lushi, 33, of London Road, Newcastle-Under-Lyme, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce cannabis, is to be sentenced at a later date
Detective Inspector Dave Skarratts, from ERSOU, said: “This was a highly organised operation that saw cannabis being produced on a mass scale.
“They were clearly prepared to resort to significant violence if needed to protect their drugs empire, shown by the dangerous handgun recovered from Koka’s car, along with a large quantity of live ammunition.
“Koka’s crimes were compounded further when he attempted to evade the consequences of his actions by fleeing the country – but our efforts have ensured he will only be getting a one way ticket to prison.”