Halifax police raid uncovers sophisticated cannabis plant farm in function hall with street value of nearly £1 million

A raid by West Yorkshire police on a function hall in Halifax uncovered a massive cannabis farm which could have netted drug dealers up to £1 million, a court heard.

Albanian national Ditran Hoxha, 38, who had been looking after more than 600 plants on the premises, tried to escape officers by jumping from the roof, but ended up breaking his foot.

Albanian national Ditran Hoxha, 38, has been jailed

Albanian national Ditran Hoxha, 38, has been jailed

Hoxha, who had come to the UK illegally, was jailed for 30 months after a judge heard details of the sophisticated set up at the Halifax Events Hall on Bedford Street.

Prosecutor Michael Smith told Bradford Crown Court that officers executed a search at the building on May 30 this year and discovered the growing operation over several floors.

He said the ground floor had been used to store plant food and compost while there were four large water butts installed on the first floor.

Mr Smith said the second floor had been converted into six separate growing areas with a well-equipped living area set up behind the bar of the function room.

“There was a seventh growing area in the attic which was accessed by a specially built staircase from the living area,” said Mr Smith.

In total officers seized 621 cannabis plants and the premises had been equipped with plastic sheeting, ventilation ducting, timers, heaters and fans.

Mr Smith said Hoxha had fled to the roof when the police arrived, but he ended up being arrested in a nearby bush.

The defendant’s fingerprints were later found on a plug socket and his DNA was on a toothbrush in the bathroom.

Hoxha, who will now face deportation at the end of his sentence, pleaded guilty to a charge of production of cannabis.

Mr Smith said the farm had the potential to produce very significant quantities of cannabis and during his sentencing of Hoxha the Recorder of Bradford Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC noted that the potential street value of the drugs could have been just short of £1 million.

“You came here illegally, smuggled in somehow, in order to raise money to provide for your family,” the judge told Hoxha through an interpreter.

“In one sense that’s very commendable, but on the other hand to do it by working for drug dealers is unacceptable.

“Somebody had used considerable skill and professionalism to convert the premises into seven growing areas.”