Man who 'looked after Rushden cannabis factory' to pay off gang debt jailed

He was arrested after trying to escape out of a bathroom window
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A man who said he was forced to look after a Rushden cannabis factory to pay off a debt has been jailed.

Leonardo Capja claimed to have been trafficked into the UK by an Albanian criminal gang when he was arrested at a house in Ashby Drive.

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During a search of the property on September 29, the 25-year-old attempted to escape out of a bathroom window before presenting himself to officers at the top of the stairs. His appearance suggested that he’d just woken up.

Leonardo CapjaLeonardo Capja
Leonardo Capja

Police found between 100 and 120 cannabis plants, which were spread across various rooms, as well as equipment required to produce the class B drug including 40 transformers, 38 lamps, 10 fans and five LED lighting units.

Capja, who was the sole occupant of the house at the time of the search, was arrested and during his police interview provided a statement in which he claimed he had been forced to maintain the upkeep of the plants to pay off a £15,000 debt he owed to the gang.

The prepared statement also referenced that Capja didn’t want to enter the UK to carry out criminal activity, but his intention was to send money back to his family and that he was ‘very sorry’.

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Capja later admitted the production of cannabis and was sentenced to 12 months in prison.

Police Constable Greg Bennett, of the East Northants Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “This warrant was executed as a direct result of community intelligence, and I would like to thank the members of public who raised their concerns as this led to the discovery of this cannabis factory.

“People may think that the production of cannabis is a victimless crime, but what they don’t realise is those at the top of the chain make very large sums of money from producing and distributing the drug.

“Tackling and preventing drug harm is a matter of priority for the force and we will continue to act on the concerns of our communities to disrupt drug dealers, who prey on the most vulnerable people in our society and bring misery to others.”