Two jailed for running cannabis factory in Northfleet
PUBLISHED: 09:29 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:29 16 July 2018
Two men jailed for running a small cannabis farm from a house in Northfleet were captured because an off-duty police officer thought one was a burglar as he looked for more houses to expand their crop.
The men appeared at Maidstone Crown Court and jailed for a combined total of four and a half years.
Salvator Kola, 44, and Xhovan Pepaj, 21, grew the illicit crop of 70 plants at a rented property in Northfleet.
Police said they were rumbled while scouting vacant properties to expand their operation.
The court heard that on June 1 this year, Pepaj was seen by an off duty police officer in the back garden of a home in Mitchell Avenue, a property that neighboured their cannabis factory.
Police were called in and they saw an open garden gate and checked it out.
They spotted Pepaj walking away from the back door and he was subsequently arrested on suspicion of burglary.
It was while the officers were on the scene that they noticed the strong cannabis smell coming from the neighbouring property. That was where Pepaj was believed to be living.
Permission was gained from the landlord to enter and inside officers found Kola and a cannabis factory across three upstairs rooms and a loft.
Kola was subsequently arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis and Pepaj was questioned about the cultivation in custody.
Within 24 hours, both men were charged. It was established that a burglary had not taken place.
Pepaj, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to two years and three months for being concerned in the production of a controlled dog.
Kola, of Mitchell Avenue, Northfleet, was sentenced to two years and three months for producing a controlled drug.
Afterwards, Det Con Jillian Stoneham, said: “Pepaj and Kola were prepared to profit from criminality and in the progress used someone else’s property as a means to an end.
“Cultivating cannabis is a criminal offence and we will not hesitate to use the full remit of our powers to bring those who break the law to justice.”