Preston cannabis farm courier was caught driving van with a £215k 'harvest'
A man dubbed a "cross country drug courier" was arrested transporting a fresh cannabis haul from a Preston drug farm.
Benard Bruci, 32, of Scholars Road, London, was stopped on a motorway in a Ford Transit van filled with freshly packed cannabis thought to have been harvested at a drugs farm on North Cliff Street.
Prosecuting, Holly Nelson, said on the morning of April 15, 2019, officers raided the property and found a large scale cannabis grow.
She added: "Room two already appeared to have been harvested. In room three they found 25 plants, room four had 24 and room five contained 39 plants.
"These were grown together with the assistance of 23 UV lights."
At 9.40am on the same day officers were made aware by Cheshire Police they were following a van and it was brought to a halt on the M6.
Miss Nelson added: " Officers approached the driver's door and described an overpowering smell of cannabis.
"The defendant was driving and was detained.
"On examination of the van at the roadside it was filled with freshly harvested cannabis."
The court heard there was 17,584 grams in the van deemed to be worth up to £215,000 if sold in street deals
In an interview Bruci made no comment but admitted being concerned in the production of cannabis on the basis he was exploited and was being paid £500 to transport it.
Nigel Leskin, defending, said he had no role in hiring the vehicle, and a man had accompanied him to the house.
He said Bruci "owed money to Albanians" in a cafe he used to go to.
He said: " He was involved through naivety and exploitation. He knew it was wrong but thought he wouldn't get caught - that's the naivety."
Imposing a 16 month jail term, suspended for two years, and 125 hours of unpaid work, Judge David Potter said: " You were hired to drive a consignment of cannabis from Preston to London. That cannabis had been grown in Preston by an organised group of criminals from Albania.
"In London those drugs would have been sold on. I accept you were pressured into this because of a debt you owed to criminals in London."
He said he would suspend the sentence due to his previous good character and accepted it was a one off incident and a two year delay in the case.
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