Raid uncovers cannabis farm inside Grade Two listed former civic hall building in West Vale

A raid by police officers uncovered a “highly professional” cannabis farm which had been set up inside a Grade Two listed former Civic Hall in West Vale.

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 12:19 pm
Bradford Crown Court

A judge heard yesterday (Tuesday) how officers executed a search warrant at the premises on Calder Street, West Vale, on November 3 last year and arrested 23-year-old Mateo Pire inside the building.

Prosecutor Mehran Nassiri told Bradford Crown Court that officers forced their way into the building and found four rooms which had been converted into cannabis growing areas.

He described the operation as professional and very well set up, and in total officers found 367 cannabis plants plus cuttings and the remains of a previously harvested crop.

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In the living area officers found documents linked to Pire and in the kitchen there was a fridge and freezer filled with fresh food.

Pire, from Albania and who had been working illegally in restaurants and doing decorating work before the Covid pandemic struck, admitted a charge of production of cannabis on the basis that he had been acting as a “gardener” at the building for 10 days.

His barrister Jonathan Turner said his client had paid £13,000 to be “trafficked” into this country after being promised that the “streets were paved with gold”.

He said when Pire could no longer repay his debt “enforcement” started and he was moved to the cannabis farm where he had been arrested.

Pire now faces automatic deportation back to Albania after serving his 15-month prison sentence.

“You became involved, I accept as a gardener, in what in my judgement was a highly professional and well set up cannabis farm,” said Recorder Anthony Hawks.

“Cannabis farms are becoming a scourge in this country and they cannot operate without the cooperation of people like yourself.”