Landlord and fake agent jailed for running drug farms
A landlord who allowed his properties to be used as cannabis growing factories has been jailed.
Jeremy Southgate, 63, installed ghost tenants into the properties, while he also ran a fake estate agent shop in Hull to cover for the drug operation – which made £11.4 million a year.
The landlord used at least 17 of his 70+ Hull properties to grow the plant, aided by estate agent accomplice Florjan Kasaj.
Initially the police found £74,000 worth of cannabis plants at one property, after which they carried out raids on 15 properties across the city.
Some £50,000 worth of drugs were also found on Southgate’s boat, which was moored in Hull Marina.
The drugs factories were staffed by illegal immigrants from Albania, as Southgate began working with the Eastern European gang in September 2019.
Southgate sentenced to 11 years in prison, after he was found guilty of conspiring to produce class B drugs, money laundering and fraud after a nine-week trial.
Judge Mark Bury said to Southgate: “You were actively involved.
“You were not the head of the organised crime group. There were people who were likely to make a significantly greater return than you, but, nevertheless, you were expecting a substantial financial advantage. You had links to others.”
Florjan Kasaj was also sentenced to seven years in prison, along with Darden Mrishaj (three years), Ervis Mrishaj (five and a half years) and Enver Rrushi (three years).
Det Con Karen Smith, of Humberside Police, said: “This investigation and disruption into the organised crime group was lengthy and complex but it was only a matter of time before our specialist trained officers dismantled this criminal network.
“By stopping this gang’s activities, we have prevented significant amounts of Class B drugs flooding our streets.”