Illegal immigrant jailed for running £1million-plus cannabis farm

Rition Mone was jailed for 38 months

Rition Mone was jailed for 38 months - Credit: ESSEX POLICE

A 26-year-old man who was employed as a gardener for 6,000 plants in an “industrial sized” cannabis farm in a disused factory in Colchester has been jailed for 38 months.

Police officers noticed a strong smell of cannabis coming from the premises in Hythe Station Road in April last year and noticed the windows were covered and that CCTV cameras had been installed, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

While the officers were waiting for a search warrant they noticed some men running across the roof and when they went inside they found Rition Mone hiding in plastic sheeting, said Joe Bird, prosecuting.

Inside the Colchester cannabis farm - 6,000 plants were found and a harvest had recently taken place

Inside the Colchester cannabis farm - 6,000 plants were found and a harvest had recently taken place - Credit: ESSEX POLICE

He said that the inside the factory police  found 13 rooms set up with plastic sheeting, covered windows, lighting, ventilation and gardening equipment.

There were 6,500 cannabis plants with an estimated street value of between £1.2million and £2.4m.

Mr Bird said there appeared to have been a recent harvest and he described the set up inside the factory as “highly professional”.

He said a set-up of the kind found inside the factory would have been capable of producing more than one harvest a year.

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He said that Mone’s role as a gardener would have included watering the plants and switching the lights on an off at the right times.

He said Mone had been in contact with people higher in the chain than him in relation to setting up the cannabis factory. 

Mone, of Hythe Station Road, Colchester, had denied producing cannabis on April 19 last year but on Tuesday (February 15) he changed his plea to guilty at Ipswich Crown Court via a  prison video link. 

The cannabis was worth between £1.2m and £2.4m

The cannabis was worth between £1.2m and £2.4m - Credit: ESSEX POLICE

Jailing him for 38 months, Judge Emma Peters said the cannabis factory had been set up to produce industrial quantities of cannabis for commercial use.

Barry Gilbert, for Mone, said his client had entered the UK illegally in the back of a truck and had been told he would work off the cost of his transportation in a restaurant.

However, when he arrived in the UK he was taken to the disused factory in Colchester and had been there for a few weeks before his arrest.

He said Mone had decided to hide in the factory rather than run off because he had nowhere else to go.

Chief Inspector Rob Huddleston, Colchester District Commander, said: “This is an example of excellent police work which led to the discovery of a very significant cannabis cultivation.

“As a result of the excellent work, officers were very quickly able to apprehend Mone, charge him and put him before the court.

“The trade in illegal drugs, no matter what class they are in, is inextricably linked to violence and the proceeds from drugs funds more criminal activity which leads to fear and misery for individuals and communities.

“Stopping the people behind the growth and sale of cannabis is vital in tackling violent crime and helps keep our community safe.”